Toronto school board seat to remain vacant for now

  • August 30, 2010
TCDSB logoTORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board could be without a chair until the Oct. 25 municipal elections, after its former chair was removed from her seat for breaching municipal conflict-of-interest laws.

At an Aug. 26 board meeting, provincially appointed supervisor Richard Alway said the seat for Ward 11 will not be filled until former chair Angela Kennedy announces if she will appeal the decision.

On Aug. 19, Ontario Superior Court Judge Lois Roberts ordered Kennedy's removal as chair of the embattled board and ruled that Kennedy breached municipal conflict-of-interest laws when she voted against staff layoffs in May 2008. Kennedy had two sons who worked with the board. Kennedy is the second trustee to be ousted over conflict allegations, while a third, Barbara Poplawksi, is facing conflict charges as well. Former chair Oliver Carroll was removed from the board last year on the same issue of voting against staff layoffs. He had two children working for the board.

Kennedy told The Catholic Register she has 30 days to appeal and has not yet decided if she will do so.

In an Aug. 27 statement after Alway's announcement, the board said “school staff and board personnel will collectively address any concerns parents may have. They are welcome to call their school and board office.”

This is news that parent candidate Kevin Morrison, who is running in Kennedy's ward 11, finds "worrisome" as school begins on Sept. 7.

"It's difficult to be a parent if there's nobody in place to help you," he said, adding that parents can have questions ranging from enrolment errors, school buses or disputes with teachers and principals.

Morrison is recommending an interim trustee be named.

Meanwhile, Dan Barrett, president of the Toronto Association of Parents in Catholic Education, recommends otherwise.

"There's no reason to appoint an interim trustee. Let it go to election. Some of the trustees there might as well be vacant (because) they  have no power,” he said.

"I don't hear a cry from parents about the absence of trustees," he said, adding that at least two wards would benefit from trustees' presence.

Former chair Catherine LeBlanc-Miller said the board faced a similar delay with replacing Carroll. She added that other trustees can fill in for the absent seat informally.

“Regardless of the situation, it's not unusual for trustees to receive calls from parents who are not within their particular ward,” LeBlanc-Miller said.

The Toronto Catholic School Board has been under supervision since 2008 after failing to balance its budget and amid news of trustee misspending allegations.

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