Toronto school trustees seek forgiveness

  • May 8, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - We’re sorry, ask for your forgiveness and hope you will trust us again.

That was the message from 12 Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees in a public apology.

“Words cannot express how truly sorry we are for the embarrassment, anxiety and frustration we have caused to the school communities, our staff and Catholic ratepayers for our actions, lack of actions and mistakes,” the trustees said in a May 1 statement.

In a 37-page document entitled “Moving Forward Together,” the trustees asked the provincially appointed supervision team to consider a gradual transition plan. Initially, trustees are proposing to resume their advisory capacity in private. They also suggest more governance training and development. Over time, trustees hope to regain their decision-making powers.

Board supervisor Norbert Hartmann said the team is reviewing the trustees’ proposals and hopes to make a decision by mid-May. Hartmann said he is “encouraged” by the document because trustees are “taking responsibility for their actions.”

“They are recognizing that it’s not simply a financial problem, but a problem of relationships and learning to work together,” he said.

The Ontario government placed the Toronto Catholic board under supervision last year when it failed to balance its budget and during a highly publicized trustee spending scandal.

Catherine LeBlanc-Miller, last year’s board chair, said trustees listened to Hartmann’s advice in a Jan. 28 statement and have reflected over the last two months on how to work together. In that statement, the supervision team said it expected trustees to “conduct themselves with civility” after a public meeting to choose a board chair turned sour.

But at least one parent group won’t budge on its view of the sitting trustees. Murielle Boudreau, chair of the Greater Toronto Catholic Parent Network, said while it welcomes the apology, words should also be backed up with action.

“There’s forgiveness. There’s also penance,” Boudreau said. “What’s more important: your job or Catholic education?”

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