Education Matters Featured

Chaos at YCDSB, chain resignations

There is no peace at the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB). Time passes but earthquakes of all kinds continue to make this school board unstable. The latest in the series is the constant resignation of personnel and questionable decisions. Like the recent one of calling back the former interim Director of Education Mary Battista who retired just eight weeks ago while, after the departure of Robert Hofstatter, the Board continues the search for a new Director of Education. Discontent with York’s Catholic school trustees from the local community and unions continues to grow. Confidence in their work, on the other hand, continues to decline.

Battista was interim director from September 2020 to February 2021, when she announced the end of her 37-year education career. The time Hofstatter served as director was much shorter: 36 days; a changing of the guard that actually leaves you stunned. Just as the return to the scene of Battista seems paradoxical. “Just to begin with the decision to look to the past for leadership goes against all logic – says the interim president of the York Region Branch of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association Michael Totten – the goal of the school board should be to project forward”. But not only that. Mary Battista’s recovery to lead the YCDSB, until the appointment of an official Director of Education, according to Totten oscillates between embarrassment and perplexity. “The school trustees did not consider Mary Battista to be suitable as permanent director and so they hired Robert Hofstatter – he said – if Mary is now the right person for the job, why didn’t they make her return as Director of Education?” Whether Battista has applied to fill the role is not known. The board has not commented on the matter. “The York Catholic District School Board cannot comment on specific personnel matters,” said spokeswoman Mariann Gordon.

In any case, Totten does not like the work of the trustees who, he says, “continue to take questionable measures” and must be “held accountable.” “It is clear that management, staff, parents and students will continue to suffer as a result of the decisions made by the school trustees of this department,” he said.

A Board that will soon have to deal with a series of resignations at the administrative level. By the end of April – says Totten – the YCDSB will be without an associate director, a curriculum and assessment superintendent, a primary education superintendent and a controller of plant and accommodation services, while by May, following Anthony Yeung’s resignation earlier this month, a new chief financial officer will also need to be found. The lack of stability within the YCDSB certainly does not calm minds.  Kearie Daniel, co-founder of Parents of Black Children, and parent of two kids said the number of vacancies in senior administration “says a lot about the level of incompetence and instability” that exists within this board and school trustees. “There is no leadership. Trustees do not have the capacity to do their job – Daniel said – it is our children who suffer when there is no leadership. Families whose children are part of the school system, who need support. Teachers who are looking for direction.” In short, chaos has served.

We asked the chair of the Board of Trustees Dominic Mazzotta and the school trustees Maria Marchese, Dino Giuliani and Maria Iafrate for comment but until the time of going to press, we received no response.

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