Alex Cope has been granted a leave of absence from his school board responsibilities following extensive drug and firearm-related charges earlier this week.

Cope requested a three-month leave of absence from his Chignecto-Central Regional School Board responsibilities, which was formally accepted last night by the school board.

Chairwoman Trudy Thompson said although First Nations people will be without a representative on the school board for the time being, the seat is not considered vacant.

Thompson said the situation is “absolutely shocking,” but “everybody’s innocent until proven guilty.”

The chairwoman added she trusts the community will not look unfavourably on the board as a whole because of Cope’s situation.

“I hope the public would not tarnish the whole board” because of one individual’s situation, she said.

“I am shocked and dismayed,” said board member Ron Marks.

“I just don’t understand it; it’s hard to believe.”

After a school board in-camera session on the Cope situation last night, superintendent Noel Hurley said the board will continue to review the matter and wait for the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

The Education Act, section 47A, indicates a school board representative would cease to be a member if convicted of an indictable offence that resulted in at least five years of punishment.

Cope, a Millbrook Band member, is facing 36 drug-related and firearm charges following a raid of his Willow Street home Monday night.

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