Election 2014: Trustee election brochures removed from schools

District says their distribution violated a policy that prohibits politicking on school grounds

The Abbotsford school district has removed brochures on the upcoming school trustee election from local schools after they were deemed to violate a policy prohibiting politicking on school grounds.

The brochures, produced by the Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association (ADTA), asks teachers to vote for trustees who “consult with teachers in decision-making; respect and reflect our diverse community; call for adequate funding for public education; are in touch with current educational issues.”

The brochure also lists the various candidates for trustee, denoting those who are incumbent trustees, former ADTA members, or endorsed by the Fraser Valley Labour Council.

It also asks teachers “to vote for candidates who will advocate for public education.”

They were brought to the district’s attention by staff as well as by a parents’ advisory committee member who found a brochure in a school.

The district directed principals and vice-principals to remove the pamphlets Monday.

While much of the info on the pamphlets regards voting basics, such as when, where and how to list, board of education vice-chair Shirley Wilson (in photo at left) said the brochures clearly break the rules when they identify endorsed candidates and in some of the language.

“It has a slight bias to it,” she said. “Schools are places of learning; they’re not for campaigning and they’re not for politicking.

“Unfortunately, there’s always at least one incident every election.”

ADTA president Doug Smuland didn’t see a problem with the pamphlet.

“I would disagree that it’s biased and certainly that wasn’t the intention,” he said. Smuland said the pamphlet was focused on providing basic information.

He said the pamphlet was directed solely at teachers and added that it is common for the ADTA to communicate with its members using material distributed on school property.

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