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Beaumont leaves school district

Cheryle Beaumont - Langley Times file photo
Cheryle Beaumont
— image credit: Langley Times file photo

Langley Board of Education announced the departure of Superintendent of Schools Cheryle Beaumont on Tuesday afternoon, and one trustee has confirmed that she was fired by a 5-2 vote of the board.

In a terse press release sent out at 5 p.m., the board stated “it regrets to announce to the school community that the Superintendent of Schools, Cheryle Beaumont, is leaving the school district to pursue other ventures. Ms. Beaumont is an outstanding superintendent who has provided strong leadership through difficult times and who has accomplished much during her tenure for the students of Langley. The board wishes Ms. Beaumont every success in her future endeavours.”

Board chair Wendy Johnson said Wednesday details about the transition plan are being worked out, and will be provided later in the week. She also was not able to speak to how much it would cost the district, as a result of the decision. She refused to say whether or not Beaumont had been fired.

Trustee Alison McVeigh, who opposed the firing, said that Beaumont “was fired by five trustees who were part of a secret slate, supported by unions.” McVeigh said she respects the majority decision of the board, because that is how democracy functions, but she also calls it a “terrible” decision.

“Cheryle Beaumont would not have up and left the district. She did an outstanding job. District achievement levels have never been higher than they are now, in our graduation rate, literacy, transition and aboriginal programs.”

“In some cases, they are higher than the provincial average,” she said, citing the 84 per cent graduation rate in Langley.

McVeigh said that Beaumont was criticized by some trustees and members of the community because of tough decisions that she made, but she noted that leaders have to make tough decisions.

“Leadership is not a popularity contest,” she said. “It’s not an easy job. The district has been through difficult times, and you can’t lead (in such times) without upsetting people.”

McVeigh said that it will cost the school district “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to pay off Beaumont, and that money will come from educational programs. The district has a contract with the ministry of education to pay back part of its accumulated deficit each year, and it cannot add to its deficit. Education programs are the only possible source of the money, she said.

“There will be deeper budget cuts that will immediately impact students.”

McVeigh also expressed concern that it will be very difficult to find a new superintendent. She has confidence that existing staff can temporarily fill the position, but “in the long term it will be difficult.”

“I was shocked by the speed with which this was done, and it’s important to point out that two of the trustees who voted for this (Candy Ashdown and Megan Dykeman) had never even worked with her as trustees before.

Trustee Rod Ross and former trustee Stacey Cody commented on the firing on The Times website, and a  Facebook page of support for Beaumont has been set up. It is called Thank-you Cheryle Beaumont and can be accessed here.

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