Robert Hofstatter

York Catholic School Board education director leaves a month into job

  • April 15, 2021

The York Catholic District School Board is looking for a new director of education after Robert Hofstatter made his exit after just over one controversial month in the role.

Hofstatter’s short-lived tenure came to an end April 7 when the board of trustees announced he would no longer be serving in the role.

His hiring, announced Feb. 21 and beginning March 1, drew criticism immediately due to his limited experience in education and in racial equity issues at a time when issues of racism within the education system in Ontario have been a top priority.

Kearie Daniel, a parent of two children and founding member of Parents of Black Children, an advocacy group, says concerned phone calls about Hofstatter’s appointment started coming in right away.

“We knew quite immediately that it was problematic because we were getting calls from numerous people (including) members of the community, parents and concerned educators,” said Daniel. “When we heard about his background, I think for us there were quite a number of alarming red flags. We had that inclination at the beginning of his hiring that he may not be the best suited for the current state of the York Catholic District School Board.”

Hofstatter came to the role with 20 plus years of experience in global information security operation systems in the financial sector, but an education background limited to three years of teaching computer science and engineering robotics at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto.

Hofstatter’s hiring came after Bill 197 was passed in July 2020, which removed the requirement that a director of education be a former teacher and supervisory officer. According to Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce at the time, the move was intended to open up the pool of candidates and increase diversity to combat racism in the education system. Hofstatter, a white candidate, was the first to benefit from this change. 

Parents of Black Children represents parents in the public and Catholic boards in York Region and assists families in dealing with cases of racism. Daniel, who along with other leaders within the group met with Hofstatter on two occasions during his short tenure, said it was evident there would be a large learning curve for him ahead.

“From our interaction with him, it was clear that he was green,” said Daniel. “It often takes time for people to grow into roles and I would say that’s OK when you’re not the leader of such a huge school board in a current crisis of anti-Black racism.”

In a statement to The Catholic Register, the board said its “strong and dedicated senior administrative team will continue to put student well-being and achievement at the forefront and to support staff in serving students. Work is underway to appoint an interim director and the board expects to make an announcement next week after the spring break.”

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