Langley School District’s board office. (Langley Advance Times files)

Former vice-chair lashes out at Langley school board colleagues

Trustee Shelley Coburn called her sudden removal in February “bullying”

Hurt feelings and accusations emerged this week at the Langley School District board table after the abrupt removal of Trustee Shelley Coburn as vice-chair in February.

Coburn raised the issue herself during the trustee comments portion of the meeting, which was conducted distantly via a Microsoft Teams virtual meeting.

The former vice-chair, who was replaced by Trustee David Tod, compared her situation to a spider in a house, that could be killed or moved aside gently.

“I was the spider,” Coburn said.

She noted that her colleagues had the right to do what they did under the School Act.

“But that does not make it right,” Coburn said.

READ MORE: Coburn ousted as vice-chair of school board

She referred to her removal as “a horrendous display of public bullying by adults,” and noted it took place on Pink Shirt Day, a day dedicated to opposing bullying.

She also said the sudden removal was humiliating.

“No reason was given,” Coburn said. “No one spoke to this motion for why I should be removed.”

After the February vote, Coburn told the Langley Advance Times that she had no advance warning that Trustee Rod Ross was considering a motion to appoint a new vice-chair.

She thanked the community and school groups she has worked with as vice-chair, and even her colleagues.

“Even to those who saw fit to kill a spider at the table, thank you, for without this experience, I would never have learned exactly what it is I am made of, and how liked and respected I am in this community,” Coburn said.

She said she still deserved to know why she was removed.

“Closure is crucial, and there are questions that remain unanswered.”

In February Ross told the Langley Advance Times that the vote was not personal.

“It’s been a longstanding rule of mine to train as many people in leadership as possible,” he said at the time.

Trustee Suzanne Perrault, who spoke after Coburn, said she trusted the intent behind Ross’s motion wasn’t to harm Coburn.

But Trustee Marnie Wilson was highly critical of her colleagues, until her microphone was muted by Chair Megan Dykeman.

“What some trustees did at our last meeting lacked integrity and transparency,” Wilson said.

She compared the process to a blindsiding vote in an episode of Survivor, and noted that all advice from previous trustees was to avoid surprises at the board table.

Wilson then accused unnamed trustees of secretly recording other trustees’ private phone conversations, before Dykeman cut her off.

“That is not for trustee comments,” said Dykeman. “I’m sorry, that is completely out of order and is inappropriate.”

“I won’t be responding to some of the comments made tonight because this is not appropriate,” Dykeman said during her own trustee comments, shortly before the meeting ended.

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