Righting a wrong: Vaughan can deliver a message Thursday

di Joe Volpe del April 24, 2019

TORONTO - “A rule of thumb”, a quick guide for people who want to make a choice in a political environment is this: check the application of the 3Ps.

Is the issue about Principle, Process or Personalities?

In Thursday’s by-election to replace “retired” York Region District School Board (YRDSB) Trustee Anna De Bartolo it’s about all three.

Let’s start with “Personalities”. De Bartolo was the Chair of the YRDSB when Staff and Trustees, prior to the last election.

She and the then Director, J. Parappally, allowed an issue to balloon to such proportions that she resigned the Chair; the Director was forced out, and replaced by Louise Sirisko; one Trustee was forced to resign under a cloud of unpleasant allegations that tarnish the reputation of the entire Board.

Charline Grant, whose insistent and persistent sacrifices on behalf of her children’s right to a safe and secure school environment, was the catalyst for those “abrupt changes”.

She took the campaign to its “logical next step”. She sought election to the YRDSB in Wards I and 2, where De Bartolo inexplicably sought re-election, and, more surprisingly, beat Grant who ranked second.

In the meanwhile, Parappally file a Statement of Claim against both YRDSB and the Chair who replaced De Bartolo, Loralea Carruthers, for multi millions of dollars.

Carruthers has filed a Statement of Defense. Neither can be resolved without a “legal discovery” in which the professional relationship between De Bartolo and Parappally (who enjoyed what some have called a “lifetime” contract with the YRDSB) will be stripped for all to criticize.

Let’s morph from “Personalities” to “Process”. De Bartolo was duly sworn-in in December of 2018. On January 9, at the Board’s first full meeting of 2019, she declared her abrupt resignation from her post citing personal reasons.

That same evening, the Board voted 7-4 to ask the City of Vaughan to immediately set in motion the mechanism for a by-election to replace her.

Director Sirisko provided a briefing note to trustees indicating that in seven out of previous eight before term vacancies were filled via an appointment.

The eighth went to a by-election when public protests forced the Board’s hand. In all eight cases, the Board had either consulted the public via advertising the vacancy or invited public input from ward electors at a pre-announced Board meeting for that purpose.

Cost was always the pre-eminent consideration in any decision, as was the consideration that the second-placed candidate in the previous election should be considered first. That did not happen in this case.

The City of Vaughn department for elections was consulted immediately after the oªces were opened in the New Year. By January 7, they had provided an estimate of the cost: $177, 424.34, an amount that should have steered everyone towards the other consideration – appointing the second-placed individual (Charline Grant).

De Bartolo resigned on January 9. Clearly the Board (Senior Sta. and Chair) knew that it was about to happen. Otherwise, they would not have sought out the estimates.

Nor would they have prepared a letter of certification directed to the City to start the electoral process the very evening they received the oªcial resignation. It is diªcult not to infer that The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher “the Board” made a decision to keep out Charline Grant.

In two subsequent Board meetings, following “Private sessions, Trustees let the Director do all of the talking. They did not want to deprive the public of their democratic rights, or as the Director repeated ad nauseum, the Board wanted to “respect the process”. A skeptic might wonder whose?

When it was pointed out to them that their by-laws allow for the reopening of the issue, provided any trustee who had voted in favour of the original plan to hold a by- election were to move to reopen the decision to further debate and subsequent vote.

People use the argument of Process, not merely because society’s stability is founded on it, but also because it is a convenient defense when they are in control and can use it avoid a discussion on Principle.

Grant’s tenacity represents a call for transparency, non discriminatory delivery of services and respect for human dignity besmirched by questionable economic practices and borderline racism.

Those two faults were what led to Ministry intervention, cancellation of contracts and now discussions in the Courts regarding the practices of individuals in the YRDSB.

Wards 1 and 2 are inhabited predominantly by Italian Canadians. Don’t tolerate racist behaviour nor do they countenance abuse of public position for personal gain.

They can prove it on Thursday by voting and teaching the YRDSB a lesson they should have selftaught on January 9.

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