Langley schools set up whistleblower system

The Langley School District has brought in a whistleblower policy for those who think something within the district is hinky or should be questioned.

Trustee Candy Ashdown said it is overdue.

“We don’t always agree in life,” said Trustee Rod Ross. “We need to embrace different points of view. I think it will make for a very healthy district.”

Secretary treasurer David Green said such a policy could have been helpful in the past.

“If this policy had been in place in 2008/2009, this district may not have ended up” in financial difficulties, Green noted.

The district had a $13.75 million deficit which took a few years to clear up, and resulted in significant cuts.

Trustee Alison McVeigh noted that the policy contains a duty to disclose. It allows people to bring up issues with the superintendent or other senior staff and report to their union representative or others.

Under the policy, an employee who knows of wrongdoing or a significant issue is expected to bring it to the attention of the superintendent, secretary-treasurer or board. Reports can also be made to the district’s law firm.

The policy grew out of a recommendation from the district’s policy committee and mirrors those of other districts.

The policy covers issues such as an unlawful act, whether civil or criminal; questionable accounting practices; falsifying district records; theft of cash, goods, services, time or fraud; inappropriate use of district assets or funds; and decision-making for personal gain; a dangerous practice likely to cause physical harm or damage to property, and retaliation, repercussion or reprisal for reporting under the policy.

There are confidentiality components to the policy and protections but also responsibilities on the part of the whistleblower.

Any employee(s) who files a report under this policy will be protected if the employee(s) provided the information in good faith; believes it to be substantially true; does not act maliciously or make false allegations; and does not seek any personal or financial gain.

There’s a set process for handling whistleblower reports. The complete policy is on the school district website and included in the June 2 board meeting agenda.

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