At the Oct 10, public meeting of the Board of Education, School District 23, I respectfully asked the Board to consider an amendment to RDCO Bylaw 366, so that dogs on a leash under the care of a responsible owner would be allowed restricted access to school grounds. Essentially, I was asking the Board to recognize that families in Kelowna continue to walk their children--with their dogs--to and from school each day.
At the Oct 24, public meeting of the Board, our school trustees voted on a motion to amend the bylaw. Some of the trustees admitted that they were confused about what they were about to vote on. To be clear, the Board has the sole discretion to allow or prohibit dogs on school property. The Superintendent and Secretary-Treasurer know that. They were present at the meeting and both chose to say nothing. The motion was defeated, unanimously, without any debate or discussion.
Later in the meeting, when pressed by a fellow trustee for an explanation, Chairman Rolli Cacchioni stated “safety issues”, and then went on to say that a relative of his is not allowed to go near cats or dogs, for medical reasons.
I hesitate to think that Chairman Cacchioni wishes to impose his personal agenda on Kelowna’s dog owner community, however the Board cannot or will not provide any defensible arguments that would explain why they do not allow dogs on school grounds.
After the Oct 24 meeting, I sent a letter to the Board asking them, again, to explain their position regarding dogs on school property. I also invited our school trustees to visit our local school, to see for themselves how students, staff, families, and dogs coexist. Typically, there are about 10 “dog visits” to our school each day, all within a friendly, supportive environment. To date, I have not received a response from the Board.
One of the unfortunate consequences of the Board’s refusal to address this issue is that families bring their dogs on to school grounds, sometimes over a span of several months, and then, as requested by the Board, are ticketed by the RDCO. The fine for bringing a dog on to school grounds is $100.
Is the Board willing to engage in some open dialogue with their constituents on the issue of dogs on school grounds, or do they choose to perpetuate this farce?