Open letter to director Browne at TCDSB: you are responsible for this mess

di Joe Volpe del 7 November 2020

Dr. Browne:

Greetings. As we both know, you chose not to respond to the e-mail below, or to others directed to you directly or as recipient on a cc list that included trustees. The Chair and I spoke yesterday, as you also know, regarding the meeting of the Board (Student Achievement Committee) held November 4.

It had been widely reported that the TCDSB was responding to a request/demand by the Minister that the Board resolve “the issue” of making publicly available the confidential Report of the Investigator who examined the allegations of those individuals who were offended by the language employed in a public debate. Allow me to acknowledge that the matter is complex and complicated – the Corriere is actively consulting with legal experts, as I think you are.

From what we have learned so far, it appears that you have become, wittingly or unwittingly, a central figure in the evolution of what is arguably a morass of procedural machinations, forcing of issues of public morality seemingly different from the one encouraged by the Church, and the “weaponization” of the Trustee Code of Ethics for the personal advantage of individuals who may be so engaged. The term is a polite expression coined by the Board’s former Interim Integrity Commissioner to describe her impression of [in my words] pernicious shenanigans of some trustees/staff in respect of policy determinations and actualization of obligations under the Education Act and the Constitutional mandate of the Catholic [Separate] Schools .

The inevitable has now again raised its ugly head: someone (a Board staff member or trustee), in contravention of all administrative procedures (law, corporate procedural obligations and sense of common courtesy towards an individual discharging his obligations under the oath of office), has released a confidential document whose distribution may or may not be made public - only if and until a  2/3 majority of trustees at a meeting of the whole agree to do so. Today, various media and press outlets claim to have copies.

We do not have one (even though we asked for one). You do. You made one available to the Minister. If you made one available to complainants, you are duty bound to explain why you did not secure a non disclosure agreement before sharing a copy. The same applies if you did not secure such an NDA even from the trustees on the Board, or the Deputy Minister, prior to a meeting authorizing public distribution.

It is no longer of interest to anyone what your motivations may have been; you are the chief executive officer of the Board. Your actions have implicated the Minister and exposed him and others to the legal action that must surely ensue the stress, reputational damage, character defamation and libelous statements that will follow such reckless or ill-advised course of action.

We will be filing FOI requests for all transcripts of conversations, email exchanges between you, your legal counsel(s), the Deputy Minister’s office any and all trustees, the Cardinal’s staff, the former director, members of the Press in respect of the [now not so] confidential report in question.

By the way, you must continue to also be very pressed for time because today, as per  your practice, you or your communications director have not had the opportunity to answer my call.

Thank you.

The Honourable Joseph Volpe

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