Board of Trustees Vote to Hold Byelection

Dec. 02, 2014

​At the Dec. 2, 2014 public board meeting the CBE Board of Trustees voted to hold a byelection to fill the vacant trustee seat for Wards 11 and 13.

The CBE Corporate Secretary will now speak to the City of Calgary Returning Officer to begin making arrangements. City Council voted on Dec. 15, 2014 in favour of an April 13, 2015 byelection date.

The Board intends to hold an information session for prospective candidates in the new year. More details will be provided as they become available.

Chair Joy Bowen-Eyre delivered the following statement prior to the vote to provide background and context as to why this vote was required: “The Board of Trustees would like to take this opportunity to clarify what has happened to date and address some misconceptions raised by a number of survey respondents about the departure of Trustee Taylor.

On Oct. 1, 2014, Trustee Taylor announced her intention to run in a byelection for the Alberta Legislative Assembly. Trustee Taylor requested a “leave of absence” from her responsibilities as a member of the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees was unable to grant this request because the School Act does not allow it. The School Act does not allow the Board of Trustees to approve a “leave of absence” from a trustee’s role, duties and legislated responsibilities as a trustee, nor does it allow a trustee to take such a “leave of absence”.

This was not a choice but a legal limitation that protects democratic process. This limitation denies the Board the authority to “un-elect” a trustee for any period of time, which is an important protection for all trustees. It also denies to trustees the ability to “un-elect” themselves for a period of time. Once a trustee is elected and takes the oath of office, this cannot be undone except through resignation, end of term, or legislated reasons for disqualification.

There is a strong consensus of legal opinion and precedent on this matter. This limitation has been in place for many years in Alberta. This same limitation was raised in 2003 when a different CBE trustee requested a “leave of absence”. The Board at that time indicated that it did not have the legal ability to grant such a leave.

Board members offered to support Trustee Taylor in the only way available under the School Act. The School Act does allow a trustee to be absent from regular board meetings in certain instances. Section 82 (1)(h) of the School Act authorizes a trustee to be absent from three consecutive regular meetings of the board if authorized by a resolution of the board. Board members expressed a willingness to approve Trustee Taylor to be absent from three consecutive regular board meetings. A special board meeting was called for October 3rd to attain this required resolution.

The CBE informed Trustee Taylor of all aspects of this situation. Trustee Taylor was advised of both the legal limitations which prevented the Board from approving the “leave of absence”, and the Board members’ expressed willingness to consider approval of the meeting absences. Trustee Taylor was advised that while she would be approved to be absent during the period of the provincial byelection, the Board did not have the authority under law to relieve her of her fiduciary duties as a CBE trustee during that period.

Trustee Taylor did not choose to continue as a trustee. Trustee Taylor submitted her resignation from the office of trustee of the Calgary Board of Education at a meeting of the Board on October 3, 2014.

Under the School Act, a trustee’s resignation is in effect once received. Section 250(1) of the School Act states that “…the trustee ceases to hold office at the meeting of the board at which the trustee’s resignation is submitted.” As of that meeting, Ms. Taylor therefore no longer held the office of trustee of the Calgary Board of Education.

Under the School Act a trustee resignation is irrevocable. There is no way under law to “un-resign” Trustee Taylor. At the Oct. 3 meeting, the Board of Trustees passed a motion to accept Trustee Taylor’s resignation. This motion did not enact or authorize the resignation; under legislation the resignation was already a fact and in effect. The motion simply put the resignation into the minutes of a public meeting of the Board. While it may be possible for the Board to rescind the motion, that action would have no effect on the resignation itself or the application of the Act.

The Board cannot appoint a person to fill a vacancy, or re-appoint a previous trustee. Section 251 of the School Act governs the filling of a vacancy and does not allow for the appointment of any person under these circumstances.  This limitation protects democratic process.

The only way to fill the vacancy created by Trustee Taylor’s resignation is to hold a by-election. Section 251 of the School Act establishes a by-election as the only way. Ms. Taylor’s resignation from the Board of Trustees created a vacancy and Section 251 of the Act applies.

The Board of Trustees must decide. Whether to hold a byelection and fill the vacancy created by Ms. Taylor’s resignation is entirely within the discretion of the remaining trustees who hold office at the Calgary Board of Education.”