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Del Grande v. TCDSB: a case without precedent

TORONTO – October 19, 2022. It was supposed to be the first of a scheduled two-day hearing in Ontario’s Superior Court to ascertain whether trustees of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) had the authority to reopen a “determination” and to reverse it. By 5:00 PM arguments and rebuttals were complete. Judges will not return a decision before the mutually agreed-upon 20-day hiatus allotted for negotiating “court costs”. 

That is the easiest part. On its face, the claim made by Trustee Michael Del Grande (the Plaintiff) through his Lawyer Charles Lugosi, is pretty straightforward: the TCDSB as a governing body did not.

The “determination” was a decision the Board reached in its function as a quasi-judicial body, on August 20, 2020. It had been, entered into the official minutes of the meeting, duly voted and certified by the Secretary of the Board (the Director) and communicated as such by the TCDSB legal department to outside entities, including the Ontario College of Teachers.

Moreover, the former Integrity Commissioner in a written, and widely circulated, submission had advised that the TCDSB could only reopen the case by filing for a judicial review. Additionally, she cautioned firmly that any underlying issues related to ‘‘denominational rights” were appropriately exclusively within the authority of the Magisterium, not the trustees.

Some of those issues emerged in the Fall of 2019 from debates in committees of the Board on the Minister’s most recent Program and Policy Memorandum (PPM). Some trustees felt the PPM appeared to renege on arrangements struck with the predecessor Wynne government on matters of sexuality and gender identity. From there, debates descended into manifestations of dysfunctionality.

The Corriere Canadese, through its publisher (the undersigned, whose academic credentials in education and administration may be available upon request in writing) and or assigned staff followed practically all the meetings of the Board in person (initially) or virtually through the Covid period. Court records will also show the undersigned as an identified observer of the Court proceedings, from start to finish.

Those records will also show the presence of no less than five (5) lawyers/investigators associated with the Ontario College of Teachers; five (5) Court officials including the judges the Registrar and at least one articling lawyer; two (2) representatives from the Campaign Life Coalition; two (2) members of the Plaintiff’s team; four (4) trustees, including the Plaintiff; three (3) lawyers from Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) representing the TCDSB, plus one (1) of the board’s in house lawyers; two (2) known anti-Catholic agitators; three (3) lawyers from the Ministry of the Attorney General; three (3) observers whose affiliation we have not yet ascertained, plus three (3) unidentified “observers”.

There were no identified representatives from the Ministry/Minister of Education. All boards of education (Catholic, Public, French or Private) answer to the Ministry on secular curriculum. Curiously, no one identified as being a part of the Operational component of the TCDSB, neither the Director, nor the individual in charge of communications.

Whatever the judges decide will reverberate throughout “the system”. Some have started to call for the dismissal of the Director Brendan Browne no matter the outcome. He put into motion the “re-opening” of a regrettable issue that had been laid to rest.

Barring any interdiction by the Court, we will report on the proceedings from notes taken on the presentations, the rebuttals and [potential] consequences. Our view is that transparency is a great teacher, and our readers have a thirst for knowledge.

This case is a unique example of the complexity of life. Today’s article is merely the introduction. 

In the pics above, Toronto Catholic District School Board and Michael Del Grande (photos from Wikipedia and www.catholicregister.org)

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