New Westminster school trustee on medical leave

New Westminster school trustee Mary Lalji is on medical leave for an undisclosed illness, the Record has learned.

Lalji, who was re-elected in November to her second term as school trustee, has missed all committee and school board meetings since February. The last meeting she attended was Jan. 29.

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In a statement to the Record, Lalji said, out of respect for her family, she did not want to disclose specific details of her leave at this time.

“I’m finding it extremely difficult coping with the challenges of my role at the board table and my new health concerns,” she added.

“My doctor felt it would be more beneficial for me to deal with my medical situation without the additional and unnecessary stress in my role as a trustee.”

Lalji admitted she is concerned she is letting down the people who voted for her but reassured the public that the board can continue its work without her so long as quorum is met (quorum is the minimum number of trustees needed to hold meetings, also referred to as a simple majority).

“I hope to continue to serve when I am able,” she added.

Board chair Mark Gifford confirmed Lalji is on medical leave and has been since February, adding that he hopes she gets well soon.

“It’s unfortunate that Mary’s been unable to participate in the last few months, as there’s so much really tremendous work happening within the district and at the board table,” he said. “We want her well and her to feel good about her ability to participate.”

Lalji couldn’t say when she would be returning to the board table but that she was waiting for more information from her doctor.

Lalji is still receiving her trustee stipend. She told the Record she uses the money “to contribute to different school and PAC initiatives such as, the high school musical, students going to camp, PAC fundraising for musical instruments and other programs to support students.”

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