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Chair of Langley School Board resigns; cites pressure from other trustees

Not even a week after Langley School Board Chair Joan Bech made a public statement promising the board would try harder to get along, Bech has decided to take her ball and go home.

Bech submitted a letter of resignation to the board this morning, saying she was planning to finish her term and not run for re-election as she is moving to the Sunshine Coast, but the political climate of the board spurred her to resign before the board’s first meeting next week.

“Individual trustees have called for my resignation, foreshadowing another needless conflict that would take away from the board’s ability to serve students,” she wrote.

“I have tried to hold this board together, and to build compromises that would allow the district to move forward in a constructive manner, even though at times it tore me apart personally. I will not allow my status as a trustee to become the focus of more battles. I am therefore announcing my resignation as trustee effective immediately.”

The Tyee was unable to reach any of the trustees referred to in the letter for comment.

The board’s first meeting of the school year is next Tuesday, September 21, when they are scheduled to hold the mid-term elections for the board’s chair and vice-chair positions. The elections were originally supposed to be held during the last meeting of the previous school year, June 15, but the board moved to hold them at this meeting.

Bech’s resignation comes one week after the release of the Auditor General’s report into the board’s operations, which noted the board’s “lack of good working relationships” as one of the reasons for its recent troubles, including a $13.5 million deficit.

Trustee Stacey Cody refused to comment on what board members called for Bech’s resignation, but denied that she was one of them.

“I think if you’ve done any research at all about the Langley school district, you can clearly see that I’ve always supported Joan,” she told the Tyee.

Langley Teacher’s Association President Susan Fonseca says she has personally always held Bech in high regard, but is disappointed that she would resign without notice.

“The district is dealing with a lot of issues, and by resigning without any notice, she’s putting the rest of the board in a very difficult position, because the mid-term elections of the chair and vice-chair position that were on the agenda in June got postponed to this meeting,” Fonseca told the Tyee. “And she’s effectively abstaining from a vote, which leaves her colleagues in a very difficult position.”

According to the BC School Trustees Association, there is no specific period of notice required for a trustee to resign under the School Act.

Katie Hyslop writes about education for The Tyee

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