February 6, 2015
Since the January 15. 2015 televised press conference about the Review of the Toronto District School Board by Ontario’s Ministry of Education that followed the Ernst and Young forensic audit of the board, I continue to be puzzled by the cause of the “culture of fear” motivating the behaviour of school board staff noted by the forensic report, then by the Ministry Review; and the reason behind the Review’s concluding recommendations.
And since that press conference, I have observed school board meetings on January 26 and February 4. At the January meeting parents and union officials spoke against the Review’s apparent attempt to limit the influence of trustees on the duties of board staff. At the February meeting, held to plan how trustees and board would comply with the Review’s recommendations by February 13, 2015; I witnessed trustees expressing consternation over the Ministry’s demand that trustees vacate board offices and no longer receive money to employ executive assistants. One of the many newly elected trustees said that she did not learn that she had an office until December 1, 2013, 34 days after her October 27 election. A seasoned trustee who had never used his office, but was sympathetic to those who needed them, seemed to speak against vacating board offices and could not understand why the Ministry wanted trustees to vacate those premises. But he was personally concerned about the attempt to eliminate the allowance to pay his assistant which he has needed to use. On the morning of February 5, I attempted to learn the results of the previous night’s meeting that lasted from 8:30 pm. ’til after I’d gone to bed. Though I know the trustees wished to meet again on February 10 to complete their preparations to comply with Ministry directives ensuing from its Review, the impression that I got from Online reports of the February 4 meetings was that trustees appeared to have acquiesced to the requirement that they vacate their board offices and forego their allowances to employ executive assistants.
Hopefully the February 10, 2015 meeting will be open to the public.