TORONTO - Thursday’s meeting of the TCDSB’s Committee on Student Achievement did not pass the smell test. Increasingly, that seems to be the case with virtually every sitting of the Board. What is going on?
Almost immediately after the official start of the “public” session of the Board – the approval of the Agenda - trustee Norman Di Pasquale, seconded by Markus De Domenico, moved that a Motion by trustee Daniel Di Giorgio referencing “fiduciary duties” of trustees and Staff be deferred to “private session” or to April 22.
Mr. Di Giorgio had provided written notice, as required, a week earlier to the Chair and the Director. The issue, according to the ensuing discussion, raised the spectre of urgent [potential] “legal risk to the Board”.
Deferring to Private would have the effect of hiding the issues from public scrutiny.
Presumably, such issues would be of interest to the general Catholic ratepayer. Di Giorgio argued that trustees are obligated by law to raise such issues at the earliest possible meeting.
In-house legal counsel, Matthews, in support of deferral, offered that the reason the Motion had not been vetted (“prepared”, for debate) was because it had been received on Holy Thursday. This being a Catholic Board, everyone’s attention was distracted to other issues. Oh, good…
The previous week, the Board read out a prescribed statement of Settlement (minus the dollar amounts for costs and damages) following litigation consequent to trustee Rizzo’s obscenities-laced threats of physical harm to the then president of the Toronto English Catholic Teacher union (TECT).
Currently, the Board is before the Courts on an issue requiring a Judicial Review brought forward by trustee Michael Del Grande. Several other trustees are embroiled in a multi-million-dollar lawsuit involving the Corriere Canadese and its publisher.
Neither trustee Di Pasquale nor his colleague De Domenico, who are defendants in at least the latter lawsuit, declared a conflict as to why they might want to discuss the matter in Private session. Neither did two others who find themselves in the same predicament – Rizzo and Li Preti.
Some of the interventions were absolutely obstructionist as well as obnoxious, if not disrespectful.
Following muddled procedural interventions, the parliamentarian o.ered that from a procedural perspective, the votes had the e.ect of eliminating both the original Motion by Di Giorgio as well as the deferral Motion by Di Pasquale.
We will have to wait until the next Board meeting to find out the damage to Catholic ratepayers. Meanwhile, as trustees turned their attention again to the Agenda, the current president of TECT tried to focus their attention by pointing out that, "As of today (April 8), 128 TCDSB schools have active [Covid-19] cases – approximately 66% of our schools. There are 320 active student cases and 84 active staff cases. Each one of these cases is a child or an educator with a family; a family whose future may well be compromised by exposure to this dangerous virus".
Last week, the York Region Catholic District School Board dismissed its Director, hired less than a year earlier.
The Hamilton Wentworth District School Board announced it is laying o. 34 teachers and issued a warning to 100 others that they may soon be declared redundant.
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