TCDSBoard of Trustees: there just must be a better way

di Joe Volpe del 18 January 2020

TORONTO - The Catholic electorate has only itself to blame – they alone are responsible for the selection of the
Board of Trustees that govern their school system. The standing room only crowd that attended the
TCDSB meeting January 16 on the Relocation of [six] school communities were treated to a gong show
that just wouldn’t quit.

It happened before the very eyes of MPP Robyn Martin, a Parliamentary Assistant in the Provincial
Government, who was kept waiting for the better part of two and a half hours to “delegate” (express
views) while experienced Trustees and Administrators made a mockery of Parliamentary procedures and
by-laws that should guide their “deliberations”. It seems that spite, a penchant to preen oneself before
any audience and blatant dissembling are the hallmarks of these Trustees.

Like similar public institutions, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) has a governance
model structured to nurture transparency and ensure accountability, if it aims to secure the confidence
and trust of those whom the organization exists to serve.

That same model builds on other safeguards to likewise protect individual privacy rights or legitimate
corporate interests against [what may be] unfair competitive practices. Human resources issues, labour
relations, collective bargaining and procurement of goods and services may fall in that category.

Those decisions and discussions take place in “private sessions” and are duly reported, for the record, in
the “public session” of every scheduled meeting. Whether Private or Public, sessions are preceded by
written briefs prepared by the Administration to “inform” Trustees prior to decisions.

The day before, trustee Rizzo, facing a flurry of hostile school reactions from the Loretto Abbey H.S.
community on the proposed (temporary) relocation of the school, did something unprecedented. She
issued a newsletter, which she referenced in the meeting, explaining that while she had been alerted to
the impending school relocation - on December 17, 2019 - she had not read her email files until an angry
caller brought it to her attention on January 15, 2020! A communications snafu developed into a total

The Associate Director (Corporate Affairs) was compelled to “apologize” for the not informing the public
appropriately - he’ll have a better opportunity in February to outline options that need to be assessed.
He did not retract words describing the environmental health and safety issues at the Abbey as urgent
or bordering on critical and perhaps leaning towards emergency.

In other words, prudent, responsible Administrative practices will require vacating the premises – the
earlier the better. One parent, an architect, perhaps inadvertently, raised the possibility of asbestos and
other carcinogens being released into the air when work on the electrical system, the HVAC and boilers
or even the retrofitting of the windows were to begin. Neighbours adjacent to the school have now
been alerted. Good luck.

There are no such emergencies looming over Regina Mundi or Dante Alighieri S.S. except Trustee Rizzo’s
laser focus on redeveloping the two sites as justification for potentially reviving the Condominium
projects defeated when the Toronto Heritage Board declared the Columbus Centre lands a heritage site.

Cui Bono?

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