By Robert Frank
In a dramatic turnaround, Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) voted Monday to move forward with a plan to replace its outdated, 12-year-old emergency measures policy.Last month, its executive committee voted to shelve the plan, after LBPSB chair Suanne Stein Day objected that it would place too great a burden on the school governing boards that would have to review it. She stated that it would have to wait until after school board elections, slated for Nov. 2, which would effectively have postponed the new plan for another year.
According to education watchdog Chris Eustace, elected school commissioners voiced their dissent at LBPSB’s subsequent executive committee meeting last week.“They were not happy about the delay, and one of the parent commissioners who sits on a governing board stated that revising the emergency measures plan is a priority and that there would be no problem undertaking the effort to review it,” Eustace told The Suburban.Commissioner Ruben Fazio asked that the item be added to the agenda of LBPSB’s March 31 council meeting, where his fellow commissioners subsequently voted unanimously to circulate the new policy immediately.
Conflict of interest allegations
The meeting’s question period also proved tempestuous, after former educator Luc Horne asked Stein Day to state how long Eustace would be banned from asking questions during LBPSB public meetings.Stein Day called for security personnel to remove Horne, after he exceeded the three minutes that she allocated for his question.She declined to say how long the Eustace ban would last, stating that the matter was in the hands of LBPSB’s lawyers who, according to Eustace, remain unresponsive six weeks after receiving his attorney’s query.Eustace was previously silenced by Stein Day’s predecessor, Marcus Tabachnick. Stein Day’s gag ruling coincided with Tabachnick’s recent bid to enter federal politics.
Tabachnick is seeking the federal Liberal party nomination in Pierrefonds-Dollard riding. Another parent, Cindy Mac Donald, protested that LBPSB dissolved the governing board at her school soon after it raised questions about perks that school staff was receiving, possibility from suppliers. She said that teachers boycotted the governing board after the parents on the elected body asked about “gifts, yoga lessons, [equipment for] teachers’ lounges and monthly coffee and donuts from an outside organization.”“When parents started asking questions, the teachers rebelled because it would have changed the way that things were done,” Mac Donald complained. “How can you justify [dissolving the governing board] to avoid questions about how money is spent, who the donors are and how service contracts are awarded? How can you reconcile such heavy handedness without any discussion?”“It was required by the Education Act,” Stein Day replied. “You have to have 50 per cent of parents and 50 per cent of the governing board in order to have quorum.”“We will investigate this conflict of interest,” Stein Day promised.