Nanaimo trustee pushing for record checks

NANAIMO – The school district is hoping to have a criminal record check policy for trustees in place in time for elections in November.

The Nanaimo school district is hoping to have a criminal record check policy for trustees in place in time for municipal elections this November.

The policy would call for trustees to provide a criminal record check after being elected. Trustee Donna Allen, who proposed the motion at the May 28 board meeting, said everybody who works with children must undergo a criminal record check and trustees are no different.

“We do go into schools, some trustees more than others, we do work with children, we have positions of power so we are in schools and we need to make sure that we come under the same guidelines as everybody else who is around children,” Allen said, adding that she is a retired teacher who has to undergo a check to keep her certificate.

When asked whether it would be more practical to have checks prior to the election, Allen said school districts are doing their due diligence.

“The best thing in the world, yes would be to, in my opinion, to have a criminal record check before you even ran for the school board, but we’re not there yet,” said Allen. “Individual school districts have decided that they are going to do due diligence for their school district.”

Allen and trustees Bill Robinson, Sharon Welch, Kim Howland and Dot Neary voted for the motion, while Bill Bard, Nancy Curley and Jamie Brennan voted against. TerryLynn Saunders was absent from the meeting.

Bard said he worries about trustees’ privacy. He was found guilty of production of a controlled substance in 2006 and given a one-year conditional sentence and said his own record has been used against him personally, professionally and politically.

“I’m concerned that there’s an issue of privacy, confidentially,” Bard said. “A file will pass between several hands, and I’m not saying that we don’t have very competent staff but that’s very sensitive information to risk exposure of.”

He said there are ways for the checks to be done without risking leaks of private information and those options need to be examined.

The aim is for district staff to develop the policy by the regular board meeting at the end of this month. Allen said following the meeting, there will be a notice of motion, during which time feedback can be provided and if necessary, changes will be made. A vote could come in August.