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Controversy follows N.B. Attorney General’s Facebook comment on District Education Councils

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WATCH: In a post earlier this month Andrea Anderson-Mason suggested the province was looking at "dismantling" District Education Councils. Andrew Cromwell has more. – Oct 30, 2019

The future of the elected bodies that oversee school districts in New Brunswick are in question. District Education Councils are in place across the province and, according to the government, oversee each school district’s priorities and needs.

A question now lies over their future, much resulting from a Facebook post earlier this month by Justice Minister and Attorney-General Andrea Anderson-Mason. In it, Anderson-Mason says the province is looking to “dismantle” District Education Councils to give way for, in her words, local control.

Some people are expressing surprise after NB Justice and Attorney General Andrea Anderson-Mason suggested District Education Councils could be “dismantled” in the future
Some people are expressing surprise after NB Justice and Attorney General Andrea Anderson-Mason suggested District Education Councils could be “dismantled” in the future. Facebook/Andrea Anderson-Mason

These remarks are drawing reaction from people inside these organizations.

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“I thought if it was just an MLA that’s one thing but the attorney general…I felt she either had the backing of cabinet or the backing of the premier so I was a little surprised,” said harry Doyle who chairs the Anglophone East District Education Council.

Mason’s colleagues on the other side of the legislature are also speaking out.

READ MORE: Education council rejects Anglophone East School District budget proposal

“I think that she specifically used those words,” said Opposition critic Robert McKee. “There was nothing in the Green Paper [on Education] at all about dismantling.”

The Green Paper did say the government will be reviewing the mandate and structure of the education department, of school districts and of District Education Councils.

Doyle says he can see room for improvement when it comes to DEC’s, especially around the difficulty of getting people to seek election.

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“Somehow I think maybe Elections New Brunswick should take a firmer hold on this to promote it a little bit better…,” said Doyle, “I’m very fortunate here. Everybody that sits around the table with me put their name forward to be elected.”

The Department of Justice and the Attorney-General deferred any comment on the matter to the Department of Education. In a statement it says no decisions have been made regarding the structure of District Education Councils.

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