Supervisor to take over T.O. Catholic school board
Published Wednesday, June 4, 2008 6:27PM EDT
The Toronto Catholic District School Board is now under the control of the Ontario government.
Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said she will appoint a supervisor to manage the board's affairs after a scathing report by a provincial investigator.
The investigator, sent to examine the board last week, said the trustees lack credibility and can't be trusted to run the board effectively.
"The credibility of this board is in doubt to the point that one must question its sincerity," said investigator Pierre Filiatrault, in the report.
The report also says that the "board does not have the ability to balance its budget" and that the "actions of the board have undermined its credibility."
The report also concluded that trustees often make spontaneous decisions without fully understanding the long-term effects of those decisions.
Wynne publicly ordered the investigation after Trustee's expense accounts became public. The elected members of the board were charging taxpayers for meals, alcohol, vacations and car allowances among other erroneous items.
The board was also running a $14 million deficit.
The investigation found:
- Evidence that trustee behaviour regarding expenses did not change after a report on the issue was received
- A deficit of $5 million to $12 million is forecast for 2008-09
- A pattern of decision-making where staff recommendations are routinely ignored and decisions are made at the last minute without thorough analysis of long-term implications.
An emotional Catherine LeBlanc-Miller, who chairs the Catholic board, said she agrees with some of the findings. She said the ordeal has been trying for her family.
"I've been busy trying to protect the interest of public Catholic education, and I think it's cost me with my son," she told reporters on Wednesday with tears in her eyes.
LeBlanc-Miller said she considered resigning on Wednesday morning when the report was released, but says she will remain at the helm for now.
While Conservative MPP Bob Runciman called for police to investigate the spending, Wynne wouldn't comment on the matter.
Despite the investigation, trustees continued to expense items. One trustee asked to be reimbursed for a trip she took to Florida with her husband.
She said during her trip she visited Ava Maria University, an institute that is reportedly trying to recruit students from Canada.
She later retracted her request because she said she wanted to regain the trust of the public.
"The board's actions have called into question the trustees' credibility, and as a result, I have no confidence in their ability to continue to manage the board's affairs," Wynne said in a news release.
"My actions today will ensure that this board is put back on track so that it can make responsible decisions that are in the best interests of students. Public confidence in this board must be restored."
Wynne said Norbert Hartmann will be the supervisor taking over. Hartmann is the person who wrote a report about trustee spending and nepotism at the board. He was also sent to take over the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board last year.
According to a news release from the Education Ministry, Hartmann is appointed to:
- Develop and responsibly implement a balanced budget plan to return the board to a balanced financial position while protecting the best interests of students
- Develop communication measures to inform parents, board trustees, student trustees, staff and the public of actions taken by the supervisor.
Hartmann's appointment takes effect immediately.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss