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UPDATE: Disparaging comments against staff led to suspension of Greater Victoria school trustees

Complaints against Diane McNally, Rob Paynter substantiated by third-party investigation
Greater Victoria School District trustees Diane McNally and Rob Paynter have been censured by the board and suspended from their duties until October for misconduct relating to bullying and harassment complaints. (Black Press Media file photos)

The Greater Victoria School Board has censured and suspended two trustees following complaints of bullying and harassment.

The board made its decision after two staff members complained about disparaging comments Diane McNally and Rob Paynter made against them last summer, according to a release from SD61.

Due to the serious nature of the complaints, the board launched a third-party investigation. The board received the resulting report in January which substantiated the claims, and called a closed meeting.

Board chair Ryan Painter couldn’t say if the decision was unanimous, but confirmed the board voted to censure and suspend the two trustees until October. The next election for school board trustees happens Oct. 15.

It’s not the first time the board has taken action against McNally. In March 2020, she was suspended from in-camera meetings for a year following the unauthorized disclosure of a confidential report.

McNally was first elected to the school board in 2011. Prior to becoming a trustee, she worked as an education assistant, teacher for students with additional support needs, and a reading recovery teacher.

READ ALSO: SD61 board votes to censure trustee after unauthorized disclosure of confidential report

Paynter first became a trustee in 2014. He served in the Canadian Armed Forces out of Esquimalt, followed by a career as a provincial public servant working on strategic land-use planning efforts.

While Painter said he couldn’t share details of the complaints, the board statement said it is reviewing the trustee code of conduct and bylaws “to ensure appropriate measures are in place to address these types of behaviours.”

“As an elected board, our job is to not only act in the best interests of our students, but to ensure that the students, staff and entire education community can feel safe in our schools,” Painter told Black Press Media. He said there is a zero tolerance rule for bullying in the Greater Victoria School District.

McNally and Paynter both declined to comment until they have consulted legal counsel.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria School District board chair answers Indigenous call to resign

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