TORONTO - No one can “make this stuff up”. School boards have been on virtual lockdown since March Break. Let’s see… that’s five months. The “announcement-a-day” approach to government continues to confound and baffle their “junior” partners in education. Don’t know why.
Institutes for Public Health have emerged with power to shut society down based on their assessment of a second wave of Covid-19, potential or real. Schools may be on their radar the way Long Term cares homes were earlier.
Some boards took the opportunity to work with their teachers to “dust-off” online programs, develop new ones, train teachers for distance learning, experiment with new technologies, explore opportunities for additional instructional spaces (in case of need), clean, disinfect and upgrade existing space. The list goes on. Not in the TCDSB.
It is swamped by a series of “suits and counter suits” – complaints and allegations of violations against the Board’s Code of Conduct and the Conflict of Interest guidelines – among trustees and their proxies. The situation is egregious. It is a wonder that the Administrative Staff can get anything done.
It is the opinion of this observer that much of the confusion is the outcome of deliberate, vexatious – if not malicious – orchestration by a small group of trustees who [it can only be deduced] are determined to make the Board their “personal playground”. It is a dysfunctional organization as a result. Tough luck for parents and students.
Trustees have spent the last eight months in internecine name-calling, pseudo-warfare stemming from two “issues”, neither having to do with education or with the Catholic ethic that is the Constitutional rock upon which the system supposedly rests.
The first appears to be Trustee Rizzo’s blinding (but blunted) ambition to be Chair of the Board. Sources within the Teachers’ Union, speaking off-the record, allege a non-disclosure agreement forming part of a solution to a potentially serious legal problem between union officials and the trustee that prevents her from seeking the position.
The second is her marshalling of LBGQT2 activists and a left-leaning organization, Progress Toronto, to force a definition of what constitutes Catholic values that would, in effect, efface any difference between the TCDSB and its completely secular coterminous Board, the TSDB. Another faction of Trustees view Catholicism as a value-added characteristic of the publicly funded TCDSB, not as a retrograde relic of systemic discriminatory club of a by gone era. They appear to be the nominal target.
One need only sit in on Board meetings, live or virtually, to see she has the unquestioning support of now four Board members whose attachment to their fiduciary obligations as Catholic Trustees is, by any analysis, peripheral at best.
Surprise, surprise, on July 28th, at a Public session of the Board – whose agenda is available to anyone – her trustees spent one hour trying to “undo” what the newly-hired [Interim] Integrity Commissioner (IC) may have already done, or to limit the scope of what she might investigate. It was a transparently questionable tactic. Nor did it reflect positively on the mover (trustee Daniel Di Giorgio) of the amendment to the Resolution empowering the IC to investigate, report findings of “transgressions” and/or recommend “sanctions”.
Di Giorgio wanted to declare “null and void” all reports and investigations prior to August 1, 2020. Rizzo’s crew are subject of formal complaints by other trustees and members of the parent public. Trustee Nancy Crawford insisted that all previous reports generated by the IC be presented – with no deadline. Outside legal counsel, Eric Roher, joined the meeting offering advice that he indicated would form part of written brief, to be presented to the Board on August 5, as to the role and powers of the IC. Di Giorgio’s amendment was defeated.
Something must have happened in Private session over the next four hours. The IC sent a letter, dated August 5th, to a complainant indicating, among other issues, that as per Resolution passed by the Board on July 28th, she could not “retroactively” look into complaints raised prior to August 1st.
As at August 9th, the Director, Rory McGuckin had not seen Roher’s written brief. Corriere has been emailing all Trustees. Only the Chair responds. Three - Rizzo, De Domenico and DiPasquale - have “blocked access” by the Corriere to their Twitter account (as you can see in the screenshots below). Little babies! What they don’t know won’t hurt them.
Meanwhile, yesterday, the Board sent out a questionnaire, at about noon, to survey what parents may wish to do re the start of school. No plan; no strategy. Ask Rizzo, in a July 20 meeting, she voted for a “full return” because she didn’t think “they” would do it. Good God in heaven!
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