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Kennedy hopes to lead Toronto Catholic school board out of provincial supervision

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  • December 16, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Despite facing a court appearance on a charge of conflict of interest, trustee Angela Kennedy was re-elected chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board on Dec. 9.

Kennedy is one of two Toronto Catholic trustees facing conflict of interest charges. Former chair Oliver Carroll was found guilty of 10 conflict-of-interest offences in February.
Kennedy told The Catholic Register that this legal application won't hinder her from fulfilling her duties.

“That's a personal matter that I have to deal with and won't affect my leadership,” she said, adding that criticism from a local parent group is a “vendetta against Catholic education.”

Murielle Boudreau, chair of the Greater Toronto Catholic Parent Network, has called for Kennedy and Barbara Poplawski, the two trustees named in the legal application, to step down.

“That is one parent and I don't think that one parent speaks for all parents,” Kennedy said. Kennedy added that parents have shown their support for her, including a parent who nominated Kennedy for vice chair of the board's special education committee, a seat which Kennedy has recently won.

Kennedy said her main priority will be working with provincially appointed supervisor Richard Alway, the board's director of education, Ann Perron, and her fellow trustees, adding she is “optimistic” about “a time line to get out of supervision.” The board has been under provincial supervision for going on two years after failing to balance its budget, compounded by reports of trustee misspending.

“Dr. Alway is not interested in being there any longer than he has to be,” she said.

She also said she the main issues she would be discussing with Alway and the other trustees would be how to implement full day kindergarten and the provincial government's proposed Bill 177 on school board governance which would compel all boards to adopt a code of conduct.

She said she has requested a one-day workshop and retreat where all 12 trustees can “work together” and “talk about how we're going to move forward in doing the best thing for our students and Catholic ratepayers.”

Kennedy is encouraging trustees “to work together with integrity, responsibility and accountability to re-establish ourselves as leaders in Catholic education.”

“Student achievement and student success continue to be a top priority for our board, and I am proud to say that our Catholic schools are serving our students well,” she said in a statement.

In her acceptance speech, Kennedy called for a “true spirit of reconciliation” and said she believes “it is time to put Catholic education first and foremost on all of our agendas.”

The secret vote was 7-4, with one trustee who was absent, in favour of Kennedy over former chair Catherine LeBlanc-Miller. Trustee Ann Andrachuk was also re-elected vice chair for 2010. Trustee Paul Crawford was elected honorary treasurer.

Boudreau, however, says the vote isn't a move forward for the board.

“I think it's a vote that (shows) they really don't know what they're doing. That doesn't show leadership,” Boudreau said. “If you want to go forward, you pick somebody neutral.”

Boudreau said the vote is “emphasizing their division,” adding there appears to be two camps within the group of trustees.

Kennedy has served as a trustee since 2000. She is a diabetes educator and registered nurse with more than 35 years of experience at Toronto East General Hospital.

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