TORONTO - Something doesn’t smell right at the York Region District School Board (YRDSB). Premier Doug Ford and Minister for Education Lisa Thompson may have to intervene.
The YRDSB is the Board embroiled in controversy over 2016 and 2017, involving educational staff, the Director, Trustees and the Chair. Racial insensitivity, incompetence and “sweetheart deals” seemed to be the order of the day, until a Senior Staffer turned whistleblower sparked a public outcry and outrage leading to direct involvement by the Ministry and the then Minister.
It was a toxic mess/scandal waiting to explode. One Trustee resigned. The Chair, Anna De Bartolo, was replaced. The Director, John Parappally, apparently struck a deal allowing the termination of his contract, notwithstanding he had almost 8 years remaining in it.
One of the parents, Charline Grant, whose family was immediately a.ected by the Board’s conduct, put her “money where her mouth is” and sought election to change the culture of the Board.
Five others followed suit. Surprisingly, the Chair, De Bartolo, also sought re-election on October 22, 2018. Remarkably, in defiance of common sense, the electorate in Wards 1 and two in Vaughan decided to re-elect her.
On January 9, 2019, less than two months after being re-elected, and one month after being sworn in, De Bartolo tendered her resignation, citing only personal reasons.
The next day, on January 10, 2019, the Board convened to address this issue. Boards of Education, like other Municipal jurisdictions have a process to fill vacancies between elections: 1.
Appoint the runner- up from the previous election, 2. Invite public interest, then have the Board appoint the “most qualified candidate” following a public meeting, 3. Engage the services of “candidate search” experts to recommend a candidate after a process involving advertising and public consultations, 4.
Call for a by-election. In the briefing documents prepared by Sta. for the Board, Trustees are advised that since 1991, the YRDSB has been faced with a vacancy situation eight times.
“In all but one case, the Board determined that the vacancy would be filled by appointment due to expenditures involved in conducting a by-election”.
The briefing document also includes an estimate of costs, dated January 8, 2019, supplied by the City Clerk’s o¡ce in the City of Vaughan (responsible for conducting the by-election).
The cost is $ 177,424.34. Spread out over four years, that is an average of $44,222.00 per year. The remuneration/honorarium for Trustees is only $22,386.00 per annum! The runner-up, two months ago, was Charline Grant. No one else was even close. The Board decided, without consultation, to ask Vaughan to conduct a by-election. The earliest that Vaughan can do so is April 11, 2019.
Reconvene, reconsider or resign.