Vancouver School Board Trustee Patti Bacchus has filed a complaint with BC’s Privacy Commissioner over allegations confidential information was given to auditors currently assessing the VSB.
Bacchus claims government appointed special advisor Peter Milburn was given access to trustee emails which may have had sensitive information about students, staff, or negotiations with the government in it.
“I am not concerned about my own information but I’m very concerned about all the third party information and that I have no way right now of knowing how much may have been accessed.”
Bacchus also says Milburn appears to be using a private Yahoo email address.
Asked about the complaint, the Ministry of Education released a statement saying the rules are being followed.
“The Special Advisor is preparing his report in full and complete compliance with B.C.’s privacy laws.”
Education minister pens open letter
With a week that’s seen the Vancouver School Board mired in allegations of bullying, the Education Minister is hoping to have the final word on the furor.
Mike Bernier has sent what his ministry has described as an “open letter to parents,” but the recipients could easily also be the VSB itself.
“We will work to ensure teachers, principals and staff at the Vancouver school board are supported through this period,” Bernier writes.
And says he wants to reassure parents, at least, that the recent allegations of bullying are being “taken seriously.”
Earlier this week the Education Minister told reporters he is “seriously considering replacing the Vancouver School Board, but says he would wait for a WorkSafeBC report into the bullying allegations.
Dysfunction and toxicity
But Bacchus claims the letter just spreads more “dysfuntion and toxicity,” and that the Minister is looking to stir further turmoil.
“When nothing of that nature has been proven, he knows there are investigations underway.”
“Why he is sending out that kind of message and almost like he’s repeating rumours; it’s irresponsible and it needs to stop.”
Earlier this month, Bernier said WorkSafeBC is probing accusations of bullying and harassment between the VSB and its staff.
Bernier received a letter from the BC School Superintendents Association containing serious allegations of a toxic work environment.
A copy of that letter, obtained by our sister station Global BC’s Keith Baldrey includes the following excerpt:
‘The Vancouver School Board work environment continually and cumulatively creates a toxicity which fosters fear and a lack of sense of safety for those lead educators as the expectations requested of them are unmanageable.’… they are asking the Ministry to intervene.”
Six senior administrators at the VSB have now taken indefinite medical leave, including the Superintendent of Schools who had been leading the VSB school closure process.
Earlier this month, the board voted to suspend the process which had 11 schools potentially on the chopping block.