A second report from WorkSafe B.C. confirms bullying did occur between trustees and senior management within the Vancouver School Board.
The redacted report says witnesses claim the environment turned negative in 2014 and progressed even further in 2016 – when the subject of balancing budgets and school closures took the spotlight.
Witnesses say trustees would raise their voices, shout, belittle, and bicker, with many of those actions directed at staff and senior management.
“At times, the interactions would be rude, derogatory, belittling, and demeaning using gestures and tone of voice. Some trustees told WorkSafeBC that other trustees had shouted at them and that they had witnessed shouting between other trustees,” states the report.
“When witnesses … were asked why they did not report any behaviour or comment they believed was bullying and harassment, they all answered they were fearful for their jobs and future careers. They all stated that there was nothing anyone could do to the trustees even if they were found to be bullying and harassing staff,” it adds.
It also says trustees were hostile, undermined the work of staff and humiliated senior management at public meetings, especially during one meeting in September of 2016, in which the board was set to vote on school closures.
The meeting was described as a “gong show.”
WorkSafe says it accepts the board’s bullying and work safe policies, but there are challenges within the district in regards to taking corrective action such as suspension and dismissal of trustees.
None of those trustees were named for privacy reasons.
After six members of the senior management team went on leave at the end of 2016, Education Minister Mike Bernier eventually fired the board for failing to pass a balanced budget.