May 13, 2013 - 10:53 AM
School District 67 trustees and administration are still choosing to remain quiet about how a convicted sex offender got district approval to transfer a student—a victim—from one school to another so they could live together in August 2011.
According to the student's father, who will not be named to protect the identity of his son, Rene Mark Bernard Burke filled out a transfer form at the school board to have the student moved and was never challenged on his claim of guardianship. The transfer was approved, despite the fact school records showed Burke was not on record as guardian. The boy's father was never contacted. The father produced copies of the two documents he obtained through a freedom-of-information request proving Burke signed the forms and was approved by the school district. Burke was later convicted of charge of fear of sexual offence against a person under 14, touching a young person and two breaches of recognizance.
Assistant superintendent Dave Burgoyne wouldn't speak to the incident itself but did explain typical protocol for transfers. He said they can be done at the school board office during the summer months. Typically, the district checks for room at the school the student wants to transfer to. Burgoyne said the school's administration would check if the transfer form matches up with school records.
He declined to respond when asked about identity checks because it's too close to the allegations from the boys father, who is suing the school district in small claims court.
Board vice-chair Bruce Johnson would not comment on the specifics of the case because it's before the courts. He briefly spoke about school board policy saying it was complex.
"That policy was written before I got there and we haven't reviewed our policy in 18 months," he said. "We are kind of in an uncomfortable (position). I would never dodge anyone who wants information."
Board chair Ginny Manning said she couldn't talk about court matters.
"At the moment I can't say anything."
Trustees Shelley Clarke, Walter John Huebert and Tracy St. Claire declined to comment for the same reason. Messages were left with trustees Linda Beaven and Linda Van Alphen but not returned.
The school district has a public meeting in Penticton at 6:30 tonight at 425 Jermyn Ave.
The father of the student is not surprised about the board's responses.
"I totally expected it. They all want to keep it hush-hush. None of them have the decency to apologize."
He said he wants to ensure the board does not make this mistake again and wants an apology and explanation. He said even if they apologized and reviewed the policy, he gave them many chances to do so. The best way to make them accountable is in court.
"How do you punish the people who did it? If you don't do the small claims action where is the accountability?"
He does not care if he gets money and also doesn't mind if he loses.
"I'll have (them) on the stand to justify what they did, in court, in front of a judge, in front of the public."
To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013