B.C. education minister won't fire Chilliwack school board to oust trustee Barry Neufeld
Minister can only fire Neufeld if he commits a criminal offence, including hate speech
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
B.C.’s education minister has no plans to oust the entire Chilliwack School Board in his quest to remove one of the district’s elected trustees. Minister, Rob Fleming, wants Barry Neufeld to resign from the board but said the only way Neufeld could get the boot is if he were to commit a criminal offence.
Neufeld has been accused of creating an unsafe school environment through homophobic and transphobic remarks, and Chilliwack’s union of non-teaching staff is in the process of filing a human rights complaint against him.
While the minister is not allowed to fire an individual school board member, he is allowed to fire the entire board in one go, and replace them with a single appointed trustee.
Fleming first asked Neufeld to resign from his position in January after the trustee accused the province's sexual orientation and gender-identity curriculum as being "a weapon of propaganda."
But Neufeld has not stepped down.
The minister told Metro on Tuesday he is only allowed to fire an individual trustee if they commit a criminal offence.
“The school act does not allow me to remove any individual trustee unless they have committed an offence…something on the criminal code, which could include hate speech.”
Fleming told Metro that he respects the hard work of the other board members.
“I wouldn't want to fire board members who are doing their job and are doing it very well,” he said. “They've censured this individual, they've identified him as being harmful and also undermining the goals of the school district so I think those trustees should be applauded for their courage and their leadership.”
The other board members have also asked Neufeld to leave his position on the school board, but he has vowed to remain in his position so that he can continue his work.
Neufeld has said he thinks there are only two genders, and openly opposes the idea that gender is fluid. He has also compared allowing children to transition genders to “child abuse.”
Fleming said he is monitoring the sitaution and keeping an eye on the human rights complaint being filed against Neufeld.
“I'm afraid we're stuck in this situation for now but it doesn’t mean if the situation should change that we wouldn't act.”