TCDSB. Time to squeeze out the gadflies, please

di Joe Volpe del October 15, 2020

TORONTO - P. De Buono’s actions or meanderings as a teacher invite conclusions that perhaps he has lost focus. If I were I to lapse into a mode of unkindness, I might suggest that he has gone from being a missionary for the LGBTQ2 movement among primary school children to being a delusional, willing instrument for someone else’s agenda.

Life is a little more complex. Formerly a lawyer, now a “mediator” (as well as teacher/advocate), his training and practice would have prepared him for a career demanding fee for service rendered, or a retainer for service to be rendered. Nothing wrong with that. It is how we express exchanges of material value.

His target “today”? The International Languages Program in the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s elementary schools. Very briefly, the IL Program offers a learning environment in six languages (other than the usual English or French – Chinese, Filipino, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Ukranian), for approximately 20 minutes per day, in schools where numbers warrant and parents request it. Fortyfive schools meet that test.

St. Anne’s Academy, the virtual school from where De Buono has been assigned to impart his unique brand of “Catholic education”, is not one of those 45. He remains offended by the existence of the IL Program, nonetheless. He has petitioned the Board to delegate (make a deputation) for its abolition.

The program came under attack a few years ago when a financial shortfall in the TCDSB’s Budget surfaced. It was prompted in part by the questionable expenditure of $22 million for the acquisition of the convent previously occupied by the Sisters of the Good Sheppard as part of Trustee Rizzo’s scheme to partner the TCDSB with the condominium project at the Columbus Centre.

The Board proceeded to make cuts in Special Education Programs to “recover” the financial position. The IL Program fell under that category.

Some teachers, chafing under the burden of having to “stick around” for 20 minutes more than colleagues at other schools, because of the “extended day”, caused their Union – Toronto English Catholic Teachers (TECT) - to launch a grievance with the Labour Relations Board for breach of the Collective Agreement.

At the time, the Corriere Canadese, considering the decision by the Arbitrator “to be several cards short of a full deck”, asked for a copy of the grievance and the argumentation leading to the outcome. It was denied access for “privacy and confidentiality” reasons. The IL Program survived… more or less.

De Buono does not think it should. He is a favourite of several trustees who fancy themselves arbiters of a new Catholicism that promotes LGBQT2 as an ethic (Rizzo, De Domenico, Di Pasquale, Li Preti and, increasingly, Di Giorgio) – when they manage to free themselves from their ties to the partisan opposition caucus at City Hall and Queen’s Park. Strange bedfellows.

De Buono has raged and vented publicly about the fact that the TCDSB is a toxic, systemically unsafe, homophobic environment for children. He has advocated widely that parents seek to relocate their children to a preferred, safer school board.

Initially turned down in his request to delegate because his presentation was “not germane” to the topics at hand, he has re-applied to delegate at the November 5 meeting, taking care to point out that he speaks for himself and not as a member of TECT. He lives in Vaughan, not Toronto.

The focus of his delegation this time will be the systemic incompetence of the Administration at TCDSB – his employer – for not having killed the IL Program. Trustee Rizzo, his patron, will be pleased.

The new Director, Brendan Browne may be a little less so. TCDSB has already witnessed a disappearance of some 3,000 students from its rolls compared to the number it had in the last school year. De Buono is still on staff. His contribution to recovering that number is still in question. The Corriere Canadese has reached out to the TCDSB, TECT and De Buono for comment. TECT affirmed that its president alone can delegate on issues impacting on the Collective Agreement. The system can do without gadflies.


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