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Calgary Board of Education Danielle Smith Jennifer Pollock Judy Tilston Liz LoVecchio Peggy Anderson Teresa Woo-Paw

smith v. board of education (part 3).

This post is the third of a multi-part series that will be published over the next week. Part 1 was posted on October 26, 2009Part 2 was posted on October 28, 2009and Part 4 was posted on November 3, 2009.

June 22, 1999: After being forced to leave a meeting due to conflict of interest, it was decided that Liz LoVecchio, Jennifer Pollock and Judy Tilston needed to submit their legal bills to an arbitrator before they could have them paid by the Calgary Board of Education (CBE). The motion was passed unanimously by the four remaining trustees. The question for the arbitrator was whether the trustees acted as members of the board or as individuals when controversial letters written by a school board candidate were given to a reporter during last year’s election campaign. If they acted as a board, their legal fees would be covered by the CBE, but if they acted as individuals, the CBE would not cover the cost.

While leaving the meeting, Pollock declared it to be a “travesty of fairness” because “the administration and CBE Chair [Teresa Woo-Paw] would not provide legal support on an action that was taken on behalf of this board and known by the chief superintendent.” Smith said the CBE had already received a $12,300 legal bill from its own lawyer for the inquiry and wouldn’t name a trustee who also submitted an $18,000 legal bill.

July 15, 1999: Despite calls for her resignation, Tilston declared that “couldn’t care less” about the demands for her resignation by Danielle Smith and Peggy Anderson. Tilston told the Calgary Herald that she had been wrongly blamed for breaching provincial privacy laws by ordering former CBE trustee candidate Andrew Koeppen letters released to the media.

The matter was then investigated by Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner. A hearing was scheduled for later that year to determine if the letters contained personal information. If so, Tilston and other trustees could have been liable for a fine up to $10,000, and a lawsuit.

July 29, 1999: After being told by CBE administrators that it would be too expensive to host on the CBE’s official site, Anderson and Smith launched their own website to publish board reports, discussion papers and agendas. The two trustees drew the ire of their colleagues after not informing them of their decision to launch the website.

August 8, 1999: A collection of notes are discovered in a CBE trash bin and are published by the Alberta Report, the Herald, and the National Post:

– One of the notes is addressed to “Lizard,” and another writes Ms. Tilston’s name five times, as if someone was practising writing it.
– One note refers to Ms. Woo-Paw as a despot, and a second one says “TWP absolutely nauseates me.”
– Another note accuses “DS”– an apparent reference to Ms. Smith — of having “crappy hair,” while a fourth note has the authors conspiring to recruit people to oppose Ms. Smith politically. “I have to find a constituent to write a formal letter of complaint,” the short missive says. “Any ideas?”
– A note in response includes the names of two potential complainants, each of whom “lives in DS’s ward.” But the note says the pair may be too high-profile, and so it may be better to recruit “someone more obscure.”
– Saying “I’ve decided to apply for aides for DS and PA, as they appear to be slow learners.”
– Questioning whether Ms. Anderson is wearing a “mood ring,” and is “more distant and pissed-off than usual.”
– Describing Ms. Pollock as looking like she has “stitches or a scar” on her face.
– Asking where “the FCD (an apparent reference to Ms. Woo-Paw) got her suit — it sure is ugly!”
– Saying “the FCD is being decidedly pissy this evening, as is her sidekick.”
– Asking “what’s trustee-half-a- brain is doing?”

Woo-Paw reminded trustees to abide by their code of conduct, which prohibited malicious behaviour. Smith told the Herald that she had seen the notes and believed the hand-writing was Tilston’s and LoVecchio’s. “Judy and Liz pass notes back and forth all the time” at board meetings. It’s a shame people are so petty when there is such important work to be done on the school board.”

August 9, 1999: Reported in the Herald:

The Calgary Board of Education voted Monday to punish two members who’ve been writing nasty notes about their colleagues at public meetings.
But only one of the two has admitted responsibility, and neither has apologized to her colleagues, board chairwoman Teresa Woo-Paw said after the board met privately.
Woo-Paw said her colleagues voted to have her write letters of reprimand later this week to the trustees, telling them their behaviour breached the board’s code of ethics.
Although Woo-Paw refused to name the two trustees, one acknowledged her role last week.
“The only way somebody could’ve got hold of these (notes) was either they ruffled through garbage and pieced them back together, or they stole them from me,” Liz LoVecchio said.
All the notes are in two handwriting styles that some board members have said match LoVecchio’s and trustee Judy Tilston’s. Tilston has refused to comment.

This post is the third of a multi-part series that will be published over the next week. Part 1 was posted on October 26, 2009, and Part 2 was posted on October 28, 2009, and Part 4 was posted on November 3, 2009.

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