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Advice to Lecce:
Physician Heal Thyself

TORONTO – The consequences flowing from scandal of the tragic suicide (July 13,2023) of retired school principal Richard Bilkszto, may he R.I.P., will reverberate throughout Ontario’s publicly funded school systems. Mr. Bilkszto was apparently harassed and bullied by representatives of the KOJO Institute (consultants in anti racism strategies).

The consultants were employed by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to provide training seminars in anti racism to school and Board level administrators. When Mr. Bilkszto objected to some generalized statements during a presentation, the presenters proceeded with what he claimed was tantamount to vexatious public humiliation. He was terminated form his contracts with the TDSB. The Director and Administration “turned their backs” on him. He had been previously recognized as exemplary.

A petition calling for a full inquiry, on Change.org, commissioned by SOS TCDSB, on July 24, garnered 4,831 signatures in 48 hours. Minister of Education Stephen Lecce has decided he will cause a review of the circumstances.

A review is different from an inquiry. Lawyers who have called or emailed the Corriere Canadese to express support for an inquiry quote Criminal Code, sec 222 (1)A person commits homicide when, directly or indirectly, by any means, he causes the death of a human being”.

They do not point their fingers. A reading of an exhaustive and uncontested Report by the WSIB, dated August 16, 2021, after an investigation into the claims (Claim No. 31815987) by Mr. Bilkszto suggests there may be a need to act rather than to review.

The issues raised by Mr. Bilkszto were corroborated by twelve colleagues in attendance at the seminars. They included Mr. R. Nigro, who is also the Vice-Chair of Toronto Administrators’ Association. WSIB found in favour of Mr. Bilkszto. Any reasonable person would conclude that the employer, in this case TDSB, is liable.

On April 25, 2023, lawyer Lisa Bildy filed a Statement of Claim (CV-23-00698436-0000) in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Mr. Bilkszto’s behalf. The Claim relies on several points including the WSIB Report, the fact that the alleged bullying is on tape, and that senior staff at TSDB emailed or tweeted and retweeted baseless, offensive allegations against a previously highly respected employee of the Board.

On July 23, 2023, he succumbed to suicide due to psychological and mental health stresses brought on by the actions or [purposeful] negligence of his superiors in the TDSB. The Board is directly responsible to the Ministry/Minister of Education.

Minister Lecce may find it uncomfortable to discover that the inquiry, should it take place, may jump from the TDSB into his Ministry and into his office. While Mr. Bilkszto was being excoriated by KOJO’s representatives (Kike Jojo-Thompson in particular), Senior Administrative Staff at the TDSB were the beneficiaries of appointments as Directors of Education: in Halton, (Curtis Ennis, 2021), in Toronto (Colleen Russel-Rawlins, 2021), in Hamilton Wentworth (Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini, 2022).

The latter is identified as the superintendent likely most responsible for supporting the KOJO institute over Mr. Bilkszto’s claims. Ennis did virtually nothing as his own Board gained international notoriety for allowing egregious “dress code violations” (a human right) by a self-declared transgender teacher. Russel-Rawlins heads a board that over this last academic year has distinguished itself for widespread mayhem and violence. There must be a “special culture” that makes TDSB superintendents so attractive.

Interestingly, another former Executive Superintendent at the TDSB, Brendan Browne, was hired in 2020 at the TCDSB. That Board, under his guidance, proceeded to put in motion a program of secularization that harassed and victimized a Trustee, Michael Del Grande, for adhering to the denominational and constitutional raison d’etre of Catholic boards.

Like M. Bilkszto, trustee Del Grande was forced to seek relief in the Courts (2021). He suffered health episodes but has stayed the course. His case is still active.

All of this under the “leadership” of Minister Lecce. What is there to review?

In the pics above, from the left: Richard Bilkszto (from National Post), Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Curtis Ennis and Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini (from Tdsb website) and Mike Del Grande (from Tcdsb website) 

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