Municipal elections issues (1): Catholic schools – YCDSB

TORONTO – It is time to get serious about the reasons why we have elections. First, throw out the riffraff in office and weed out the ones that would replace them. Secondly, study the alternatives and vote for them. Third, reaffirm the principles for which institutions exist and hold to account those who erode their value for the sake of their personal pet projects. 

There are more, but for now let us stay with these: there are “political personalities” sufficient to fill any roster in any city. We will try to do justice to as many as possible, even if, from our perspective, Premier Ford has already set that agenda and the offices of mayor in most cities with his ‘strong mayor’ conditions.

The role of School Board trustees is another matter – especially those in Constitutionally-mandated Catholic school systems. Because the Corriere has had many occasions to observe and critique several Catholic District School Boards in the greater Toronto Hamilton Niagara Area, we will focus on three boards from that area in particular: TCDSB, YCDSB and HCDSB.

To start, let us clarify that by ‘constitutionally mandated’ we understand to mean the legal right of those systems to exist and the obligation of their trustees to maintain that catholicity and to sustain the functionality of the finances and programs dictated by government beyond that.

For example, YCDSB is facing a critical challenge. Five trustees of Italian background have taken such great offense at what they describe as a discriminatory slur directed at them because of their ethnicity that they refuse to attend meetings until the issue is resolved. Four of them have chosen not to offer themselves as candidates for re-election.

Friday, at 10:00 AM, a meeting deferred from the previous Tuesday for lack of quorum, met with the same result. The next opportunity to seek validation for decisions is at the end of the month. Meanwhile, the Board and its Secretary-Director will strain the resources of the Ministry to justify expenditures, staff allocations, multi-year plans, negotiations with teachers and education workers.

Trustee Mc Nicol who sparked and fueled the crisis with her besmirching of the five colleagues by equating them with the American criminal underworld has done nothing to correct the situation. In fact, she heaped scorn on them by issuing social media messages in Italian because, in her view, it is the only language they understand (in the pics below, the posts by Mc Nicol in English and Italian).

The Chair, Elizabeth Crowe, says her hands are tied and the trustees can take the matter to the Trustee Code of Conduct and the Integrity Commissioner. Neither were instituted with this type of discrimination in mind.

As indicated in a previous article, some parents from Pope Francis E.S. in Kleinburg have been waiting since February for the Board to deal with where their children will go on the first day of school. The current trustee and the group of Five have been prepared to address this in a board meeting, despite the intransigence of the Secretary Director who insists that non-Catholic students accommodated at pope Francis have priority, by virtue of being “red circled”. Portable classrooms are out of the question he said.

We went on site. There seems to be plenty of room for one more, as one can see in the Google picture above. YCDSB has had since February to sort out the logistics.

Perhaps the woke members of the Board and its zealots on Staff were too busy preparing for the Judicial Review of the YCDSB policy regarding a challenge prompted by the Litigation Guardian of one Daria Kandaharian, a non-Catholic, who demanded she be eligible to stand as student trustee in a Catholic board. Who is motivating her?

The irony is that, even if she were to win and the case were not appealed, she will have graduated and not be in a position to take her seat.

The hundreds of thousands on legal fees will have been more than enough to accommodate the children of Pope Francis E.S. to the satisfaction of the parents whose only request is that the Board provide them with what they are constitutionally entitled to receive in the parent- Church- school paradigm.