The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Board of Education will comply with a Ministry of Education order to send home report cards to parents, even though there won’t be any grades included on them due to ongoing job action by teachers.
While the board eventually agreed unanimously Wednesday to send the blank report cards home with a letter attached explaining the current job action, trustees Mike Huber and Stepan Vdovine argued the board should defy the ministry and refuse to send them out.
Sending home a blank report card is a waste of taxpayers’ money, said Huber, while Vdovine argued the order was a bargaining ploy by the province, “clearly designed to apply pressure.”
Secretary-treasurer Wayne Jefferson noted that ignoring such an order would likely be in contravention of the School Act, and thus illegal.
“I admire the spirit of what your intentions are … but we are guided by the School Act,” said board chair Ken Clarkson. “I don’t believe this is a cross to die on.”
However, Huber said the board has a financial responsibility to taxpayers to keep dollars in the classroom and to support teachers.
“As trustees, we can make a crucial decision where we stand,” Huber said, calling on trustees to “have the conviction to stand up for what [they] believe is right.”
Trustee Kathie Ward argued there was value in sending home the report cards even without the grades, because they contain student attendance information.
“What you’re asking us to do is pick and choose which laws [we] follow,” she said.
“I do believe I’m standing up for what I believe in. I took an oath … I won’t compromise my principles.”
Trustee Susan Carr also agreed there was value in sending home the attendance report, and that by attaching a letter explaining the board’s position, parents would be better educated about the situation.
“I think the expense is warranted,” said Carr.