Last week, the Vancouver School Board came under criticism not only for its toxic work culture but also because it chose to release just a brief summary of the report – now, freedom of information requests have compelled the organisation to offer more details.
A redacted version of the original 44-page report was finally released yesterday with lawyer and investigator Roslyn Goldner singling out members of the left-leaning Vision Vancouver party and putting blame on trustees for creating a toxic work environment.
According to the report, the “tipping point” came during a September meeting in which Vision's Patti Bacchus – a trustee at the time – proposed a motion asking the Vancouver mayor to review enrolment projections that had been prepared by board staff.
“I do not find the explanations provided by Vision trustees related to the motions proposed at the Sept. 26 meeting credible,'' Goldner wrote in the report. “The evidence supports the claims that their interest was in pursuing a political agenda rather than supporting the prior decision of the board and the recommendations of the senior staff.”
Goldner’s report goes on to allege that trustees repeatedly and relentlessly questioned staff who soon came to fear for their job security. The conduct is reported to have escalated in 2016 amid a “highly politicized” budget and school closure plan which suggested shutting down 11 schools.
“The fact that the board is a political arena does not justify displays of disrespectful conduct,” chides the report. “Even in the context of a partisan board, healthy disagreement and robust debate need not be accompanied by rude, dismissive or belittling behaviour.”
While much of her findings singled out Vision Vancouver, Goldner stressed that all trustees – whether they had been disrespectful or not – contributed to the creation of a negative environment because they tolerated inappropriate behaviour.
“They allowed ambient bullying to negatively affect the workplace,” she explained.
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