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YCDSB: Where is your
sense of purpose?

TORONTO – This is a typical, daily repeated question in the governing bodies of any country. When the public loses confidence in those entrusted with the governing structure, they begin to look elsewhere. School boards are not exempt from that dynamic.

In Ontario (Canada) we have two publicly funded school systems (Catholic and “Public”) as guaranteed by Constitutional arrangement. Where numbers warrant, two other linguistic (French Catholic and French Public) may be set up. For the sake of simplicity, no Provincial legislation, no Charter, or Human Rights code can supersede the “denominational rights” of Catholics to their own schools. Area school boards are elected by their electors to protect and promote those rights.

York Catholic (YCDSB) has become the latest school board where logic seems to have been left at the entrance. I am trying to be kind, even if at times it may appear different.

York region is a sprawling municipality, home to 1,173,334 residents (2021 Census), 294,050 of them Catholics, therefore able to access those schools as a right. The YCDSB exists because of them. York is also home to 145,695 Canadians who self-identified as Italian in origin. There are very few Italians, irrespective of the profoundness of their faith, who are not Catholic. For the sake of argument, that is about 100%. That means that for planning purposes, the YCDSB should consider that their clientele is approximately 50% Italian… whether they like it or not!

Therein lies the most pressing problems from a reputational point of view. This week, trustees will decide on several issues, which we will elaborate going forward. For now…

… First, two weeks after Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, at a very public ceremony including then Chair Frank Alexander, Vice Chair Maria Iafrate, trustees Angela Saggese and Micaela Barbieri, allocated $350,000 for the study of Italian. YCDSB Staff produced a plan for the consideration of the Board which effectively axes the program. Director Scuglia “endorsed” the plan. Thank you, Stephen Lecce.

Second, Trustee McNicol of Newmarket – Aurora, the protagonist/antagonist in anti-Italian conduct among trustees at the YCDS since at least early 2022, was found to be engaging in “discriminatory behaviour” by a third-party investigator.  No apologies. For reasons unknown to the public but including a menacing letter by the law firm Weir Foulds on her behalf, the Board moderated its sanctions and allowed her to vote in Board caucus to elect the Chair for 2023-24. It is unclear why the urgency.

The exercise was, again being kind, laughable. It was repeated in an equally risible vote three days later. The law firm that handled the first, Miller Thomson, was replaced by BLG for the second. It may now be entrusted with handling the outcomes of the Weir Foulds letter. Neither law firms responded to email request for comment. York Region Police confirmed an ongoing investigation into the first vote as per Board request. Uhhh…

Third, the radical activists who have seized control of the local OECTA teachers’ union have launched a Human Rights complaint/lawsuit against [now former Chair] Frank Alexander for adhering to the Catholic ethic he was elected to uphold. OECTA has no standing in the Constitutional Compromise that led to the creation of Canada and school boards in that new construct. Where is the Archbishop?

Who is paying for this?

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