Education Minister Karen Casey fired the Strait regional school board yesterday on the advice of the board chair after months of constant bickering and recent “appalling” behaviour.

“I believe it’s in the best interests of students and that’s why I made the decision,” Casey told reporters.

Full responsibility for the board is now in the hands of one man — John Sears, a former professor and vice-president academic at St. Francis Xavier University.


The minister appointed Sears in February to manage the school board’s $80-million budget and human resources after stripping the elected members of some of their powers.

Now, the members won’t be permitted to sit around the board table at all.

Former board chair Henry Van Berkel said that when the minister asked for his opinion about what should be done, he felt compelled to recommend the dismissal.

“I felt like that board was not going to be able to move forward comfortably to create the best kind of decision-making on behalf of our students,” Van Berkel said yesterday.

Recent difficulties stemmed from a May 7 public board meeting where members debated a motion to prevent programs created by a local women’s centre from being delivered in schools.

Van Berkel said people attending the meeting later told him the behaviour they witnessed was appalling.

“I had seen it before. I certainly didn’t like it.

“I think I exercised considerable patience, but eventually had to put my foot down and exercise the authority of the chair,” Van Berkel said.

He said he removed board vice-chair Mike Brown from the meeting for breaching the board’s code of ethics. However, Brown walked out on his own first.

Last week, members voted 6-5 against a motion to discipline Brown for his behaviour.

With files from Robyn Young

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