School Boards with Purpose but with Built-in Dysfunctionality

di Joe Volpe del 28 October 2020

TORONTO - Locally and nternationally, the issues are inescapably reduced to Covid-19, the school environment, and the return to economic normalcy. Would that it was different.
As reported yesterday by our own Mariella Policheni, we are just beginning to get an inkling that student enrolment (and the dollars that flow from them) at publicly funded School Boards may not reflect those stated.
The actual figures may call into question the legitimacy of assumptions used to define student needs and teacher allocations.
Local school board trustees should face the wrath of ratepayers who have been “told one thing while trustees have been working on another”.
It may be worse for Catholic School Board trustees who have a special purpose to safeguard and to advance beyond that of effective and efficient curriculum delivery.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) by virtue of its size has a vocational obligation to deliver an educational environment that justifies a “separate schools” system in the Constitution.
The Corriere Canadese obtained a Report filed by the former Interim Integrity Commissioner (IIC), Sandhya Kohli, subsequent to investigations of alleged transgressions of the Trustee code of Conduct for the TCDSB.
The allegations and complaints had been brought on by Trustees and the Public. In very explicit language, she says “it is evident that the trustees of the TCDSB do not understand their role as a fiduciary”. They have a common law duty to act honestly, in good faith and in the best interests of the whole Board”, she adds.
Regrettably, her findings reflected the observations made by the Corriere: The Trustee Code of Conduct is used to reflect “hurts and offenses… rather than flagging obligations under the Code of Conduct”.
Of the fourteen complaints she charted, Trustee Maria Rizzo is directly involved in nine of them. Her acolytes, Markus De Domenico and Ida Li Preti, are subjects in four others. Nor do they appear ready to “move on”. The IIC observed that “proper governance and process is not a foundation of the Board’s day to day operations”. Wow!
She did find that “the weaponization of the Code [of Conduct] is emblematic of a lack of understanding of a trustee’s role as a fiduciary to the collective Board”.
She adds that deliberations of the Board “result [in] discord and protracted meetings that step into the day-to-day operations of the Board, and thus outside the purview of the Board, and the kind of unnecessary discussion that often necessitates consultations with outside legal counsel”. That vicious weaponization is squandering funds that should go towards the education of our children.
Remember, this is a Catholic School Board. The IIC does: “Of note is that many of the issues resulting in complaints stemmed from differing religious views or interpretation of current church doctrines, whether conservative or progressive… [which] has resulted in a certain amount of dysfunction at the Board level where the agenda is co-opted with issues that should rest with the Archdiocese.”
Hello! Has someone been less than diligent in discharging his pastoral duties?
Madame Kohli remarks that “whatever the individual Trustee’s view may be, the appropriate path is to follow that which is set by the Church”. Instead, trustees “espouse viewpoints and opinions that could place the Board and the Church in a bad light…” she adds.
Incredibly, seemingly at Rizzo’s encouragement – if not invitation and insistence – radical activists to undermine the authority of the Church and its institutions are given free rein to harass and intimidate those who hold a view different from their own.
Without that “authority”, the Constitutionality of the existence of Catholic schools evaporates. Someone needs to show some backbone. As the IIC says: it is a privilege to be a Trustee.
Corriere Canadese adds: it is not about pursuing personal interests.


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