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Not once, but twice — Creston School Trustee censured, again

The Board of School District No. 8, Kootenay Lake made the decision to censure Trustee Allan Gribbin of Creston during a closed meeting on Tuesday, August 25th.

For the second time in just over a year Trustee Allan Gribbin is facing “censure” by the Kootenay Lake School Board.

The Board of School District No. 8, Kootenay Lake, announced the decision to censure Trustee Gribbin Monday in a media release following a closed meeting Tuesday, August 25th.

Gribbin is a retired school-teacher elected to the Kootenay Lake School Board in the fall of 2018 to serve the Creston area.

“Since the first censure on June 25th, 2019, for “disrespectful comments and disruptive conduct in a public board meeting on May 28, 2019 and for misleading statements made in the newspaper”, Trustee Gribbin has made further false, misleading and derogatory statements about the Board and its Staff,” the Kootenay Lake School Board release said.

When contact by email, Board chairperson Lenora Trenaman said Gribbin “repeated violation of Board Policy 130 Trustee Conduct and Code of Ethics” as well as “to correct misleading statements made publicly.”

Gribbin writes information piece to residents of his area that has appeared in the Creston Valley Advance newspaper.

His latest submission, appearing August 25 in the Advance, is titled — Gribbin: A Note from your Trustee.

Gribbin opens the piece with a statement — As your trustee, I am required to state that my article does not represent the views of the Board of Trustees on School District #8.

However, the Kootenay Lake School Board has protocol to provide information to the public.

“The Board Chair and Superintendent are the two authorized spokespersons of School District 8, per Board policy,” the media release said.

“The District’s website www.sd8.bc.ca provides accurate information regarding our Back-to-School-Safely plans and all aspects of the educational services we provide.”

“Trustee Gribbin is not authorized to speak on behalf of the Board,” the media release added.

Trenaman said Gribbin made crucial statements that were misrepresentations as to Board decision-making procedures for bringing students back to school safely.

“In these challenging times, it is important the public, parents and students in particular know that there is a robust process behind these decisions, with support from the Ministry of Education and the PHO,” Trenaman explained.

“Also, we wanted to correct the Trustee’s misrepresentations about his earlier censure, to ensure there are no misperceptions about the integrity of the Board.”

The Kootenay Lake School Board said it remains committed to open, transparent debate with all trustees free to express their personal perspectives.

“However, the Kootenay Lake School Board said policies and ethics insist on respect and standards of professionalism and civility within this free discussion, consistent with the Board’s Code of Conduct,” the media release said.

There is also a misunderstanding with the form of punishment leveled by the Kootenay Lake School Board toward Gribbin.

In a letter to the editor, Gribbin said he was “censored” by the Kootenay Lake School Board.

In fact, the Kootenay Lake School Board Trustee Gribbin has not been “censored” but “censured”.

“A Board censure is not ‘censorship’,” the media release said.

“It is a statement of disapproval in response to breaches of the Board’s Code of Conduct. The Board has a responsibility to ensure that the Code of Conduct is upheld in order to maintain the integrity and dignity of the Board.”

The Board acknowledges Trustee Gribbin’s place at the Board table of School District No. 8.

Trenaman added as an elected trustee, Gribbin has rights and responsibilities, and cannot be removed from the Board.

“As a Trustee duly elected by our constituents, his voice is welcome in helping to find consensus as to what is best for our students,” the media release said.

“However, the Board is resolute that it must engage in respectful dialogue and debate, in a constructive environment.”

The Kootenay Lake School Board said it places the highest importance on its mission to foster excellence for all learners in a nurturing environment. 

The Kootenay Lake School Board added that it will take action as necessary so as not to be distracted from this important mission and a focus on ensuring a safe and successful return to school this fall.

Gribbin said in the August 25thAdvance letter that he will “continue to express my views whether or not they issue another censure, since that is what you expect of me.

“I have offered to resolve this issue through mediation or arbitration in an impartial hearing but to date, the board has chosen to follow its own process.

“I will, however, keep the people of Creston updated.”