The York Region District School Board has elected a new chair amid questions about the board’s handling of issues around inclusivity and discrimination.

Trustees voted in Loralea Carruthers as the board’s new chair at a meeting Monday night.

Carruthers is the trustee for East Gwillimbury and Whitchurch-Stouffville. She beat the only other candidate – incumbent Anna DeBartolo – in Monday night’s vote.

Carruthers will now lead the board as it deals with criticism from parents and some staff that it has not handled complaints about discrimination and inclusivity properly.  

Last month Education Minister Mitzie Hunter wrote a letter to the board to say that she had serious concerns over the handling of discrimination issues at the YRDSB.

The letter followed complaints by the board’s head of equity Cecil Roach that he had been sidelined and treated with hostility when it came to dealing with inclusivity complaints, particularly in the case of  a Markham principal who linked to Islamophobic messages on her Facebook account.

As chair, DeBartolo responded to Hunter by saying she welcomes a discussion of the board’s work when it comes to creating accepting, safe and welcoming learning environments.

Hunter has set a deadline of Jan. 13 for the board to respond with an action plan detailing how it handles complaints around inclusivity.