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Judicial hearing starts for suspended Greater Victoria school trustees

School district trustees Rob Paynter and Diane McNally were censured and suspended in February.
Diane McNally and Rob Paynter have both been relieved of their duties until October, when the next municipal and school board elections will be held. VIA GREATER VICTORIA SCHOOL BOARD

A judicial review into the suspension of two Greater Victoria School District trustees started on Wednesday and is expected to last until the end of the day Friday.

The B.C. Supreme Court review is being carried out via a virtual link from Kelowna, with Justice Briana Hardwick presiding.

School district trustees Rob Paynter and Diane McNally were censured and suspended in February for alleged inappropriate comments on social media that constituted bullying and harassment.

Their suspensions leave the district board with seven members.

A third-party investigation determined that, last July, the two made comments and criticisms, mainly posted on Twitter, and directed at district secretary-treasurer Kim Morris.

In February, board chairman Ryan Painter released a letter that said Paynter and McNally were among trustees connected in May last year to the use of public forums to disparage employees, including then superintendent Shelley Green.

Those comments were part of the reason that Green’s employment ended by mutual agreement, Painter said in the letter. A letter of apology from the board to Green was later read into the public record.

Paynter and McNally’s suspensions run until October, when the next school board elections are scheduled.

The review had been due to take place in April, but was postponed because one of the school district’s lawyers had COVID-like symptoms.