Minister appoints special advisor to SD50

B.C.’s minister of education has appointed a special advisor to help the Haida Gwaii School District fix some governance problems.

Education Minister Rob Flemming wrote a letter last Tuesday to Roeland Denooij, the newly elected chair of the Haida Gwaii school board, to explain why the ministry has appointed an advisor and outline the advisor’s role.

“As you know, following discussions with the former Haida Gwaii Board of Education, a number of current and former district staff, and other members of the local community, the ministry has identified a range of issues with the board’s governance of the district,” Flemming wrote.

“I am concerned these challenges continue to undermine the district’s ability to focus on student learning.”

Speaking at the latest school board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18, Denooij said he and other school trustees look forward to working with the ministry’s special advisor, Piet Langstraat, who recently retired as superintendent for the Greater Victoria School District.

“We’re looking forward to receiving support from Mr. Langstraat, as he brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience,” Denooij said.

“In the end, it’s going to mean a strong gain for our district,” he added later.

A ministry spokesperson said by email that Langstraat will review the district’s governance capacity, culture, roles, practices (including its approach to conflicts of interest), relationships with district management and stakeholders, as well as compliance with legal requirements, and evaluations of senior staff.

Appointed for a term that ends June 1, 2019, Langstraat will also help the school district to finish developing a strategic plan, to recruit and hire new senior staff, and to understand effective board governance.

In August, teachers and parents were surprised to learn that after only two years, Dawna Day was leaving her role as superintendent of schools for the Haida Gwaii School District.

Day did not publicly explain why she was no longer with the district.

In October, members of the newly reformed Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) for Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary asked the outgoing school board why Day was gone, and what severance she was paid.

Former board chair Harmony Williams said at the time that the trustees were legally bound by confidentiality rules, but parents who wanted to know more could file a Freedom of Information request.

It may be unrelated, but the outgoing school board recently spent $5,500 to hire a lawyer — a legal fee not typically included in the school board’s budget.

Under B.C.’s School Act, a special advisor can inspect all school board records, attend school board meetings, and enter schools or school offices to evaluate a school district as needed.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘A time of transition:’ CHN looking to release next steps of pandemic response this week

State of local emergency is in effect; Gaagwiis says CHN developing indicators to guide next steps

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach urges feds to compensate airline passengers

Letter to transport minister touches on Northwest B.C. tourism operators impacted by COVID-19

Two new bridges to be built along Highway 16 between Port Clements, Tlell

Ministry of Transportation says $5.4-million project expected to be complete in fall 2020

‘Now Is the Time’ doc will start streaming on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Film featuring Haida carver Robert Davidson will launch June 21 for free on NFB website

Haida Gwaii couple frustrated after Air Canada cancels flight, denies compensation

Mike Racz says another passenger received $1,000 while he was only offered e-coupon and promo code

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Most Read