The head of the York Region District School Board has apologized for “all the hardship” he had a role in causing at the scandal-plagued board.

Director of Education J. Philip Parappally delivered the apology at a special board meeting on Wednesday night.

The meeting was held less than 24 hours after the release of a scathing report that identified a “culture of fear” at the YRDSB and took trustees to task for lacking even a “basic understanding of their role and responsibilities as elected leaders.”

“I am sorry for all the hardship I caused,” Parappally said during the meeting. “I am confident that working through the recommendations will improve public confidence in our board.”

In January, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter appointed Patrick Case and Sue Herbert to look into the activities of the board following two high-profile incidents of racism and Islamophobia. One of those incidents involved a trustee using a racial slur to refer to a parent while the other involved a school principal in Markham posting material to Facebook that some parents said was offensive to Muslims.

The ensuing report released Tuesday blamed trustees for failing to exhibit “strong and ethical leadership” and took issue with the “culture of fear” that it said exists within the board.

Speaking to trustees on Wednesday night, Parappally said that he and his staff “cooperated fully and accommodated all requests” related to the review.

He said that staff will now work on creating “open and transparent” policies to put the board in a better place going forward.

“Again I will reiterate. I am sorry for all the hardship,” he said in closing.

26 recommendations

Case and Herbert made a total of 26 recommendations as part of their review, all of which were unanimously approved by YRDSB trustees on Wednesday night.

Some of the recommendations pertain to the boards handling of racist incidents and how they can better improve equity while others pertain to the governance of the board, including a stipulation that an integrity commissioner be hired to handle complaints.

“When we first saw the report it was very upsetting obviously but it gives us a chance to move forward, it gives us a clear path,” YRDSB Chair Loralea Carruthers told CP24 on Wednesday night. “It is things that trustees have been asking to do and it gives us timelines which will help us to expedite the things we need to get on.”

Some parents have called for Parappally to be dismissed in the wake of the scathing report but he did not address those critics during Wednesday night’s meeting.

It should be noted that one of the report’s recommendations calls for an external human resources professional to conduct a performance appraisal of Parappally by no later than May 31.