Trustees trying to regain public's trust

  • March 6, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO  - Catholic school trustees say they are taking steps towards rebuilding trust among themselves and with the public.

“We need to be able to talk with each other and try to rebuild the trust that we once had,” said Angela Kennedy, who was elected chair of the board on Jan. 22 but has not been able to take her seat.

A public display of trustee infighting led provincially appointed supervisor Norbert Hartmann to delay the appointment.

After Hartmann issued a Jan. 28 letter asking trustees “to step back, to be calm, to reflect, to refocus on the objectives and their original purpose and to get things back on track,” Kennedy said most of the 11 trustees have met informally twice.

Trustee John del Grande said trustees are taking the initiative to work together and find common ground.

“I think it’s important for parents to know that we’re not just sitting around and collecting a paycheque,” he said, adding that these steps are key for trustees to effectively fulfill their role on behalf of the Catholic community.

But some parents say they are skeptical about the results of these meetings.

“It’s just not going to build any trust there because they’ve taken the trust out of trustee,” said Murielle Boudreau, chair of the Greater Toronto Catholic Parent Network .

She cited the reports on trustees’ questionable spending and conflict of interest charges against former trustee Oliver Carroll that led to his removal from the board. Carroll took part in budget discussions despite having a child employed as a teacher with the board.

Boudreau said her group is also concerned about potential conflict of interest charges against two other trustees, Kennedy, who has a child employed as a supply teacher, and Barbara Poplawksi whose daughter is an educational assistant.

Hartmann told The Register he was not sure when a new chair will be appointed or when trustees’ original responsibilities will be reinstated. At the last public board meeting on Feb. 25, trustees sat in the public gallery.

“We asked the trustees to go away and reflect on their priorities and reflect on the kinds of things that they considered important, so when they come back to us with that, we will see how we can move forward,” Hartmann said.

According to board spokesperson Mary Jo Deighan, the board will fill Carroll’s seat by the end of April and it is unlikely that it will take the form of a by-election.

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