School trustee will take her seat after all

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustee Donna Allen has reversed her decision to give up her seat, and she has been sworn into office.

A Nanaimo school trustee has reversed her decision to give up her seat on the school board.

Donna Allen, who was elected for a third term on the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school board Nov. 19, announced Dec. 1 that she would not take the oath of office because she wanted to campaign for legislative changes that would require all trustee candidates to undergo criminal record checks and disclose the results to voters.

Allen changed her mind and was sworn into office Friday morning.

In the two weeks since her decision not to take the oath of office, Allen says numerous people contacted her, urging her to continue campaigning for legislative changes, but to do so while remaining a school trustee.

“There’s been so much pressure to go back on the board, to work from within,” she said. “People believe I can do my best work from there.”

Allen previously believed she could not lobby for changes and remain on the board because she thought she would cause a distraction, as trustee 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.

Another factor in Allen’s decision is cost of the byelection, she said.

Because she resigned so soon after the election, Allen thought the district could simply swear in the candidate who finished tenth in the polls.

“I don’t want to put to the people, the taxpayers, an additional $100,000 expense,” she said. “I had never anticipated the need for a byelection.”

Allen doesn’t anticipate any problems with working with Bard on the board.

“As far as I’m concerned, Bill was simply the catalyst,” she said. “This isn’t about Bill. This is about are we going to move forward and make changes for the safety of the children? I think people have shown clearly in the past two weeks that they value my work on the board.”

Allen plans to ask the board to raise the issue of criminal record checks at the B.C. School Trustees’ Association’s annual general meeting.

Phil Turin, secretary-treasurer for School District 68, says holding another election would have been a tremendous amount of work for district staff.

“It’s great that we’ll have a full board and that we won’t have to go through a byelection,” he said.

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