Trustee resigns to battle for record checks

A Nanaimo school trustee-elect says she will not take an oath of office.

A Nanaimo school trustee-elect says she will not take an oath of office because she is fighting for legislative changes that would require all school board candidates to undergo criminal record checks.

Donna Allen, who served two terms on Nanaimo school board and was elected for a third Nov. 19, said she plans to devote her time to lobbying for legislation that requires all trustee candidates to undergo criminal record checks and disclose the results to voters.  To do this, she said she cannot be a part of the incoming school board, as trustee-elect Bill Bard has a criminal record.

Bard was found guilty of production of a controlled substance in 2006 and given a one-year conditional sentence.

Allen believes there would be a division of opinion on the new board about whether to pursue and support this issue and that her work on the issue would cause a distraction to the work the board needs to concentrate on.

“I can’t continue on the board feeling as strongly as this,” she said. “It would cause problems. I’m feeling very sad about it because this board was working very well. We had done all kinds of good work.”

Local government and school trustee candidates are not required to disclose criminal records and are not subject to criminal record checks.

A person is only restricted from running for office or holding office if they are serving time in jail for an indictable offence.

The issue was first brought to Allen’s attention when Bard ran for trustee this fall. She said everyone else who works with children is required to have criminal record checks.

Bard said he was shocked to hear of Allen’s decision not to be on the incoming school board.

“My past is my past. I paid dearly,” he said. “It was no secret. Another paper asked me about this during the election process. If it had to do with violence or children, I can see how somebody could be concerned.”

He said he qualified to run like everybody else and that he is about to be pardoned.

School district spokeswoman Donna Reimer said if Allen does not take the oath of office, a byelection will be required.

“We believe that it will cost at least $100,000,” she said.