Letter to the editor 4, May 25, 2017

LBPSB Commissioners: Do the Honourable Thing

Dear Editor,

I recently accepted an invitation from Lester B. Pearson school board Vice Chair, and now Acting Chair, Noel Burke, to meet and discuss my "…concerns and mutual expectations around the monthly public question period."

Present at the May 11 meeting were Director General Michael Chechile, Noel Burke and me.

Before I sat down, I emphasized that anything said at the meeting was "not confidential,” and repeated a concern which I wrote when I accepted the invitation.

The concern was made months ago, at a media scrum following the November 2016 council meeting, when Chairperson Suanne Stein Day admitted she was the commissioner found guilty, three times, by the Ethics Commissioner for violating the board's Code of Ethics.

Recall this excerpt from the Your Local Journal article: "LBPSB Ethics scandal riles council meeting attendees" (December 1, 2016). "When asked how the board could move forward in light of the hostile response of the attendees, Stein Day said she had the support of every one of the commissioners and administration."

That was then, this is now.

This is the present situation.

Stein Day has taken a leave of absence for an undetermined period. Depending on when the next school board elections are held, this could mean a minimum of 18 months to 24 months - if the elections are postponed.

On May 7, I was asked about Stein Day posting messages on Facebook regarding the flood, bridge and school closures. This was highly irregular as she was on a leave of absence.

One post was headed "BREAKING NEWS," followed by misinformation , which ended up with her apologizing. Then she wrote the information she dispersed came from the administration of the LBPSB.

Among many other points that were discussed, I said I would be asking the following questions at Public Question Period at the webcast Council meeting on May 27, 2017.

1. Did the Directorate contact Stein Day regarding the flood situation with info about the closing of bridges and schools? (MC said "no.").

2. Is Stein Day receiving full salary during her absence which could cost the taxpayer up to $70,000 for doing nothing, while enjoying the "support” of the commissioners and administration? (No answer was given).

3. Let's recall the violations of the Ethics Code involved the chair's total disrespect toward executives at the board level (AQCS members) and school principals / vice principals. They complained about "abuse of power," and her actions casting "a shadow over the organization (board), which caused damage to "the reputation of our members."

It is the responsibility of the Council of Commissioners to protect the reputation of the board and its employees. They have failed.

Consider the Globe and Mail article: "The jig is up for Canada's school boards" on April 23, 2017.

Note this excerpt:

"So is the English-language Lester B. Pearson School Board in suburban Montreal. Yet they, too, have been plagued by the same apparent inability of grown adults to act their age."

What an embarrassment! Across Canada, no less.

We must make a concerted effort to bring some pride and happiness to the Lester B. Pearson School Board.

For the greater good, commissioners should do the honourable thing, by withdrawing "support” of the Chairperson by a vote of non-confidence.

Chris Eustace