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York Catholic: try transparency and proactive communications

York Catholic: try transparency and proactive communications

York Catholic: try transparency and proactive communications

by The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher

TORONTO – There is, by all appearances, a vibrant parent community around St Theresa Lisieux Catholic High School in Richmond Hill. It supports the school’s programs. When they can, the parents sponsor, financially, or raise funds for some of the extra-curricular activities.

The senior boys’ soccer team for example, has for at least the last three years participated in “international” soccer tournaments hosted in various cities in Italy. “It is a program that gives our kids an opportunity to experience a larger world”, says Italo Magnifico, whose son, Lucas, captains the soccer team. “They play against some very competitive teams invited from other schools and Soccer Academies in Europe. It is a great learning experience.”

“These tournaments also provide for an opportunity to expand the cultural horizons of kids. Last year’s tournament, for example saw our players go to Naples. The Amalfi coast and its cities and Siderno in Calabria. These are places with a history and culture that go back thousands of years. When would we be able to replicate that program?” he added.

Mr. Magnifico’s company. Anix Developments, has sponsored the program for the last three years. But he is quick to explain that the program is the outcome of input from the principal, Joseph Servidio, the coach and the parent council.

“It’s the parents who decide where the team goes, what they do and the itineray that they are to follow. They set the agenda,” says Mr. Magnifico. He thinks the program is a credit to the school and to the community’s desire to engage in its activities.

Once the parents approve, they submit a proposal to the Board, through the school, and accompany the proposal with a down payment to secure the services associated with making arrangements and bookings for the Tournament. That proposal was to be finalized at a meeting scheduled for September 20.

He was surprised to learn yesterday that a decision had been made “higher up” that the program was cancelled. Seven parents began a telephone chain to get at the root of the apparent decision. They called their Trustee, Domenic Mazzotta for an explanation. One parent called the Corriere Canadese.

In turn, we attempted to connect with the two Trustees for Richmond Hill, Domenic Mazzotta and Elizabeth Stong. The latter has yet to respond. Mr. Mazzotta confirmed that he had been told the same thing but had not received notice from Staff.

At the Board meeting (later the evening of the 13th) Mr Mazzotta presented a “time sensitive motion” prior to the approval of the Agenda, stressing that decisions affecting any school community be brought to the attention of the Trustee before they are communicated to the public. That did not happen in this case. He demanded an apology from the Director. She gave it, and promised to get back to him after item 14 on the agenda. At that point, Mr. Mazzotta was assured that the program had not been cancelled. But a “tiff” ensued between him and Trustee Molgado who rebuked him for chiding the Director at an open meeting.

Perhaps tempers were flaring because earlier in the day an autistic child had gone missing when the transportation company failed to deliver him to his destination at Holy Cross. The Trustee Dino Giuliani, received notice, via email at 5:52 pm. He expressed frustration at not being told in advance so that he could at least address the concern of the parents.

The intransigence of the Board was documented in a 2.5 minute sequence on CityPulse. No one from head office according to the newsclip offered any information. The parents were distraught. It is not a closed file.

On the issue of the trip, Mr. Magnifico was happy to hear that “the trip is back on”. We attempted to get a clearer picture from the Principal, Mr. Servidio. He referred us to the Board.

The Director of Communications, Ms Gallo, indicated that an official Board position will be presented following the September 20 parents’ meeting. We attempted to connect with Ms Molgado and Ms Stong. As of going to press, without success.

Maybe they have more important fish to fry.

(Thursday 15 September 2016)

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