MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)

New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

B.C.’s new minister of education, Jennifer Whiteside, is standing behind her predecessor and calling for a Chilliwack school trustee to resign.

“I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague Minister (Rob) Fleming’s comments on the matter. It is time for Mr. (Barry) Neufeld to step down, full stop,” Whiteside told The Progress. “Time and time again, his reprehensible comments make it clear that he should not hold the role of school trustee and should not be in a school setting.”

Whiteside was sworn in as minister on Nov. 28, and Fleming was moved to the Ministry of Transportation. He had spoken recently to CBC about Neufeld prior to the cabinet shuffle and said there is a “toxic environment created around the (Chilliwack) board table renders that board really dysfunctional.”

There have been at least two petitions created to remove Neufeld.

One that was created in response to his using a derogatory term on his Facebook page has gathered more than 12,000 signatures in two weeks.

“After slandering our local paper and reporters, and continuing to be incredibly insensitive to any minority group in our community, I call for Barry Neufeld’s resignation, and preferably removal as school trustee for SD33 for his continued use of offensive language and complete disregard for decency in our community,” wrote the petition’s creator, Lisa Sweet, a parent in Chilliwack.

But when it comes down it, the minister of education does not have the legal ability to remove a single trustee. The only action currently available to the minister would be to remove the entire school board. The next general election for municipalities and school boards is set for the fall of 2022, and when boards have been removed in the past a single appointee has been put in place in the interim.

Many have written to the Ministry of Education to ask for new legislation that could remove a single sitting trustee under extraordinary circumstances.

As the new minister, Whiteside has been receiving those letters.

“With Mr. Neufeld still sitting on the board and espousing his hateful views, students and staff are not able to learn in a safe and inclusive education system and that is unacceptable,” she added. “If he does not do the right thing and step down immediately, I am looking at all possible options to make sure students and staff in Chilliwack feel welcome in their learning environments.”

Neufeld is currently under censure by the Chilliwack school board for comments he made about Canada’s medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam. He is also not allowed to attend Chilliwack schools, due to comments made about the LGBTQ community. And most recently, the school board voted to exclude him from the rest of their in-camera meetings for the school year, because he breached confidentiality and refused to recuse himself in a discussion for which he had pecuniary interests.

Despite being removed from most of his duties as a trustee, he will receive his regular remuneration for the entirety of his term. He can still attend public meetings and vote on matters in front of the board.

READ MORE: Chilliwack school board censures controversial trustee Barry Neufeld


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Chilliwack School District

Just Posted

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Agassiz Agricultural Hall hosts COVID-19 vaccination clinics every Wednesday. District officials reported more than 300 doses are administered per week. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Walk-in COVID vaccine clinic scheduled for Wednesday

Walk-in appointments available while supplies last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in March at the Hope Station House, showing support for preserving the 1916 building. (Photo/Christian Ward)
New reports breathe life into efforts to save the Hope Station House

The documents were presented to District of Hope Council at a meeting June 14

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read