New Westminster school trustee Dee Beattie is stepping down in the aftermath of a Twitter controversy that erupted in the spring.
Beattie has been on a medical leave of absence since June from her position on school board. The move followed revelations that she had used a fake Twitter account to troll parents and others — including former B.C. Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring, teacher and COVID awareness advocate Jennifer Heighton, and former trustee Mary Lalji.
Beattie admitted to using the fake account after her identity behind the fake "Allan Whitterstone" account was revealed by local parent Sarah Arboleda.
At the Sept. 26 school board meeting — the first of the 2023-24 school year — school board chair Maya Russell announced that Beattie has resigned her position on the board. Russell said Beattie has now informed the board she is moving away from the district "to focus on her retirement and her health."
The board has been asking for Beattie's resignation since the incident happened, but it did not have the power under the School Act to force Beattie to step down.
The board will now officially notify the City of New Westminster, and the notice will trigger a byelection. The date of the byelection will be determined by the municipally appointed chief election officer and publicly announced once a date is set.
“In the meantime, you can be confident that your board will remain focused on the important work that we need to do here together,” Russell said.
Though the byelection has yet to be officially called, the first candidate has already made herself known. Parent Kathleen Carlsen, a district parent advisory council member, has now officially been named the New West Progressives' candidate for the byelection. Carlsen ran for school board in the October 2022 municipal election and narrowly missed winning a seat in a neck-and-neck battle with Community First New West's Elliott Slinn for the seventh spot. (In the end, Slinn earned 7,756 votes to Carlsen's 7,418.)
“I’m so honoured and thrilled to receive the support of the NWP board of directors, and I’m looking forward to engaging with the community and winning the confidence of New Westminster residents to become school trustee," Carlsen said in a press release.
Carlsen has stepped down from her position as secretary of DPAC in order to run for office.
Community First New West, which holds a majority on the school board, has not yet announced a candidate in the race to replace Beattie.
In a thread on Twitter (X) last night, Community First said the party "looks forward to nominating a candidate who will gain the confidence of New Westminster students, families, staff, community partners and government funders."
Community First is relieved to hear of Dee Beattie's resignation from the New Westminster School Board. Her resignation was the right thing to do and now allows for a by-election to replace her seat.— Community First New West (@Community1stNW) September 27, 2023