Administrative office in Kelowna for Central Okanagan Public Schools. (File photo)

Central Okanagan Parents Advisory Council takes issue with school board chair election process

School board chair says trustees committed to working collaboratively

The secret ballot vote process which elected a new chair to the Central Okanagan Board of Education has been called into question by the president of the Central Okanagan Parents Advisory Council.

Simon Adams said some parents have registered concerns with the COPAC executive and on social media about how the vote went down at the Nov. 9 inaugural meeting, for the recently elected new board of education, which resulted in long-time trustee Lee-Ann Tiede being elected as chair.

While Adams said COPAC has no issue with Tiede becoming board chair, he said the reality was there were three trustees nominated to run for the chair position, and each had a trustee nominee, meaning in order to secure the required majority four votes of the seven-member board, some had to vote differently than their initially publicly stated preference either as a candidate or nominator.

Adams described that scenario as at best performative or at worst intentionally misleading, as Tiede along with trustees Chantelle Desrosiers and Julia Fraser were nominated in the vote for the chair position.

He said in the future, he would hope the board would consider an open vote for the chair position to avoid any perceived confusion of where trustees stand.

Adams made his presentation during the public question/comment period of the board meeting on Wednesday night.

Contacted after the meeting, Tiede said the closed ballot process was democracy at work.

“Any trustee can be nominated (to be board chair) and any trustee can change their mind about who to vote for between the nomination process and the ballot. That is what freedom looks like,” Tiede said.

Tiede said the new board of education has moved on from the Nov. 9 vote and are coming together, with the support of school district staff, to begin working collaboratively to be an effective and positive governing body.

“We want to make our school district exceptional and this board can do that…even though we may have different views in life we do have one unified goal and that is to do the best for our students,” she said.

“I am thrilled to see the collaborative enthusiasm of our new group of trustees working together to find solutions to issues we have to deal with.”

READ MORE: Kelowna trustee to chair Central Okanagan Board of Education

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