The following statement was read by CBE Board of Trustees Chair Marilyn Dennis at the February 4, 2020 Public Board Meeting.
On January, 27, 2020, pursuant to the Education Act, Trustee Lisa Davis submitted her resignation to the Corporate Secretary which became effective immediately. We thank Ms. Davis for her service to CBE students, parents and the schools that she has worked with. The Board wishes Ms. Davis all the best in her future endeavours.
The Board has not yet considered its options around holding a by-election. Going forward, the Board will be pleased to look after the interests of students, parents and staff in Wards 6 & 7. The Board is committed to ensuring the values of students come first, learning is our central purpose and public education serves the common good will be upheld.
I would also like to address recent characterizations of how the Board of Trustees of the Calgary Board of Education operates. As publicly elected trustees, each one of us swore an oath to act in the best interest of students and public education on behalf of all citizens of Calgary. We take this responsibility very seriously. We diligently perform our legislated responsibilities to the best of our abilities.
In December 2019 the province announced an independent, external investigation of the finances and governance of the CBE. The Board and CBE administration are cooperating fully with the investigation. The CBE has been open, honest and transparent by providing all requested information through documentation and interviews.
Throughout this process, our actions have been reasonable and consistent with how any organization under investigation would act. It is common for legal counsel to support organizations during investigations. At the start of the process, CBE confirmed with the lead investigator that CBE legal counsel could participate. The presence of legal counsel has not presented any concerns or challenges in 15 of 16 interviews completed to date. We understand that the sixteenth interview will be completed this week.
As representatives of the public, we value the principles of openness and transparency and this is reflected in our governance policies and board meeting procedures. All meetings of the Board of Trustees are consistent with legislation and our board meeting procedures. Under the Education Act (Section 64) all school boards are permitted to meet privately. Typically the topics discussed at private meetings relate to land, labour, legal and strategic governance. All public and private board meeting minutes, which record all motions made and how each trustee voted, are posted on the CBE public website.
As a Board, we value the differing perspectives that each individual trustee may bring to our discussions. We welcome new ideas that could further student success in our system. Before making decisions, we study issues thoroughly, ask probing questions of administration and each other, and consider different viewpoints before ultimately voting. This process allows for each of our voices to be heard. After the vote is taken, we commit to respecting the decision and moving forward as a united Board. This is how a healthy democratic organization functions.
Trustees strive to hold ourselves accountable to the principles of openness, transparency, and continuous improvement. We are confident that our current governance policies and procedures are fully compliant with legislation and strong governance practices.
Questions & Answers
Why did the Board agree to meet in private on Sunday, January 26, 2020?
The Board met to receive timely information related to the investigation. We met on Sunday evening as it best fit the majority of trustees’ schedules. The meeting was held in private which is permitted by section 64(3) of the Education Act and under the CBE’s board meeting procedures. No trustees objected to holding the meeting, and the motion to discuss the matter privately was passed unanimously.
Why does CBE want counsel present?
It is common for counsel to participate and support organizations during investigations. Counsel assists CBE to be responsive to the investigation. The CBE confirmed in December with the lead investigator that CBE counsel could participate in the process. This has not been an issue thus far; 15 of 16 interviews have been completed without concern.
Does the presence of CBE counsel place any restrictions on what those being interviewed can say?
No. All participants were encouraged to be honest, open and candid in their interviews and to answer questions put to them. The presence of CBE counsel was to support the process and was not intended to interfere with what people have to say about the matters under investigation.
Why can’t people choose their own lawyer?
Individuals were told they can bring their own legal counsel to represent their individual interest. The CBE confirmed in this process that its legal counsel could also be present to support the organization. The CBE’s right to legal counsel in no way impedes an individual right to their counsel of choice, nor does it interfere with their right to fully participate in the investigation proceedings.
What is your response to concerns raised by the Minister in the media about keeping the information from the January 26, 2020 meeting confidential?
The information shared with the Minister comes from a confidential, private, meeting of the Board. It included legal advice that is considered privileged which means the information is private between the persons receiving the advice and those giving the advice, and this privacy is protected by law.