Another overnight, marathon meeting at the TCDSB: “What a waste”

di Joe Volpe del 23 August 2020

TORONTO - Maybe there is still hope for this organization. In the early hours of Friday morning, after more than six hours of what appeared to be purposeless, repetitive, delegations and unending procedural motions and amendments, the Board finally got around to the two main agenda items of substance.

One supposes that the start of the school year - preparing the physical environment for the safe return of students and staff – and planning for the delivery of a curriculum that makes sense from a learner and community point of view, might receive undivided attention. These are logistical issues: how to get X number of people from point A to point B; do so safely and prepare so that they might have a productive experience. That should have been its only priority.

Life is never so easy. The Provincial government will make that call. At best, the TCDSB – like other Boards – could work diligently on “deliverables”, then adjust according to unforeseen circumstances… if it were not dedicated to playing partisan politics and settling scores.

Moreover, this Board, as body, still has not set its bearings; it is dysfunctional in the extreme. For the better part of a year, it has allowed outside considerations to rip apart “the soul” and “raison d’etre” of the Catholic system.

For Thursday’s meeting, the other task of the day called for solving the question of Trustee Code of Conduct and allegations of Conflicts of Interest by trustees. The TCDSB has spent the year consumed by the need to hire outside legal counsel, special investigators, adjudicators involving former judges and integrity commissioners to determine what rules have been broken, if any, and how to repair the damage done. The cost will have been sizable. It is still mounting.

At the center of it all is the former Chair, often referred to with “affectionate sarcasm” as the twenty first century “malade imaginaire”, Maria Rizzo. Her obstreperous style and foul mouth made her the target of several complaints – by staff, trustees, and union officials.

One of those complaints, when she was still Chair in late 2019, was apparently “scaled down” from a potential criminal charge to one of “grievance” lodged against her with the Labour Relations Board. Another involved a material “conflict of interest” when she voted on a budget item – after declaring the interest.

Since then, her behaviour has been a classic manifestation of protest for the sake of showing who is in charge. She and her minions (De Domenico, Di Pasquale, Li Preti and, now, Di Giorgio) leak like a broken sieve to mainstream media “to advance their agenda” – and,  it is difficult to discern the presence of any educational goals, let alone Catholic values, in that agenda.

Friday morning, shortly after midnight, Trustees, following an earlier presentation, in Private, by the Interim Integrity Commissioner in the presence of TCDSB lawyers and outside legal counsel, unanimously approved a motion finding her to be in violation of Conflict of Interest guidelines. The sanctions will be announced at a Board meeting on September 17.

In an ironic twist, neither she nor the childish group she has under her spell were able to bring any similar condemnation on their Colleague Mike Del Grande. All Motions designed to cast aspersions on him for allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct failed.

Part two in tomorrow’ edition for more details.


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