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Dear Dianne Turner: "Here are my keys, VSB ID tag and parking badge."

A letter to Diane Turner, Premier Christy Clark's hand-picked successor to the axed Vancouver School Board.

Patti Bacchus, Dianne Turner
Patti Bacchus, fired VSB Trustee (left), and Dianne Turner, appointed VSB Official Trustee (right). Patti Bacchus photo courtesy Twitter. Dianne Turner photo courtesy Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

Dear Dianne –

As per your request, enclosed please find my VSB keys, name tag, VSB ID badge and parking tab. I didn’t use VSB equipment (phone, laptop or iPad) and I have none to return.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you well with your new appointment as the Vancouver School Board’s Official Trustee. It is my hope that you treat this wonderful and complicated school district with the care and attention I and my elected colleagues did. 

I spent eight years — and many long hours and sleepless nights — trying to do my very best to support teaching and learning and to ensure every student got the support and opportunities they needed to find success. It was uphill all the way but worth every bit of effort.

I learned so much over those years and feel so fortunate to have been able to serve. As you know, people who choose careers in education are passionate, creative, innovative and understand the transformational power of education.

They know that education empowers people to live full lives as engaged citizens. They know it’s not just about meeting the demands of industry for workers and consumers —  it’s so much more than that. They are incredible people.

 It is a great privilege to be entrusted by parents to oversee their children’s education. It is also a heavy responsibility. Give it everything you have. Bring your very best self to the board table.

I’ll be frank and say I was concerned about your comments in the media regarding standing committee consolidation. As a trustee, I found those meetings highly informative and helpful in ensuring each decision I participated in was an informed one.

Over the eight years I served as a trustee, I did my best to attend every standing committee meeting I could, and that was almost all of them — and I wasn’t the only trustee to do so. I encourage you to do the same. It is worth it and your decisions will be much better for it. I did it so I know you can do it too.

 Please also pay attention to the VSB’s several advisory committees. They’re extremely important and often meet during the work day. Attend as many as you can and I guarantee you will learn from them and the representatives who participate.

I always did and I am so grateful to the those who generously shared their advice, experience and expertise with me. Don’t let those meetings get cancelled or otherwise sidelined. You need to be there listening.

Get out and visit schools as often as you can. You will find they inspire you and reaffirm your reasons for doing this important job. Take time to visit staff rooms at recess or lunch time. Ask staff what they need from you in order for them to do their best work.

Listen to what they tell you and act on it. The most important thing you can do is to support the staff who work on the front lines in our schools. 

They know best what they need and if you ask them they will tell you.

Let parents know you’ll be visiting their schools and invite them to sit down with you over coffee. Ask them what’s working and what’s not. You will learn from them. I always did. Meet with students and do the same. I find they often have wisdom that seems beyond their years.

And remember the VSB doesn’t work in isolation. As elected trustees we each represented the district on external advisory committees — that must continue. Whether it’s the City’s advisory committees, the Vancouver Public Library Board or others, stay connected and find time for these meetings. We did and you can. There are many people counting on you. Don’t let them down.

I put my heart and soul into the Vancouver School Board and I hope you will too. There are so many VSB programs that support kids who have few other options. I’m so proud of the range and richness of opportunities our schools provide and the people who work in them. Treat them with care.

I plan to stay engaged in the Vancouver school district in a new role. I’ll be continuing to advocate and hold all levels of government accountable. I’ll support parents and students in accessing the services they need. Our students deserve nothing less and I will continue to serve as I made that promise to Vancouver voters when they elected me to serve this four-year term. I’m only halfway there.

Dianne, you are a highly respected educational leader and as you know at one time I asked you to work for the VSB in a senior leadership role. You have a breadth of experience and have rightfully earned the respect of many.

And while I wish your return to the VSB had been under different circumstances, I sincerely hope you succeed in this challenging role — your success will be the best thing for students and their families. That’s what matters most.

Good luck and take care of the VSB. It is a wonderful district. 


Patti Bacchus

Encl: Keys, name tag, VSB ID badge and parking tab.



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