Toronto School Board’s Culture Of Fear

By Gary Wheeler

(TORONTO, ON) – The province has asked Margaret Wilson to conduct a review of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) amid growing concerns about the governance of Ontario’s largest school board. Wilson served as the Registrar at the Ontario College of Teachers between 1995 and 2000. Prior to that she served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation.

The review will include an examination of the current operational issues at the school board and a focus on the board’s governance structure.

The final report, which will be submitted to the Minister of Education before the end of the year, will include recommendations on how to address current operational and relationship issues as well as recommendations on how the government should conduct a consultation about possible improvements to the governance structure at TDSB.

The purpose of the operational review is to ensure the school board, with 11 new trustees to be sworn in on December 1, has the tools it needs to succeed and ensure the board is focused on student achievement and well-being.

“The on-going concerns at the TDSB are putting public confidence at risk, not just in Toronto but across the province,” said Liz Sandals, Minister of Education. “As Minister I have no choice but to act.”

In December 2012, the province assigned a special assistance team to help the board eliminate its capital deficit and implement recommendations from a report by PwC. The province imposed a funding freeze on new capital projects at the TDSB in the fall of 2012, after several capital projects had run over budget. The capital freeze was lifted in July 2013.

The province also released a forensic audit in December 2013, conducted by Ernst and Young, at the request of the board, following concerns raised by the board’s audit committee. The forensic audit covered the period from September 2009 to June 2013. The final report was released in December 2013.

The board continues to be plagued by accusations of inappropriate behaviour, insubordination, and an on-going culture of fear among staff and elected trustees at the TDSB. These on-going concerns have put public confidence in the governance of the TDSB at risk.

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Ian Shalapata

Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between.

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