Letter: Reader questions governance of LDSB Board of Trustees

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The following is a letter to the editor regarding the governance of the Limestone District School Board (LDSB)’s Board of Trustees. The views and opinons expressed in this letter do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.

Dear Editor,

Three recent developments call into serious question the current governance policy and practices of the Limestone District School Board: the 2018 closed door selection of a replacement for deceased Trustee David Jackson, the 2018 censure and suspension of Trustee Tom Mahoney and the 2019 censure of Trustee Robin Hutcheon. Concerns voiced publicly by past LDSB Chair Paula Murray add credence to claims that the Board seeks to muzzle elected trustees by applying strict governance rules that undermine trustees as true representatives of parents and the public.

I have filed an official complaint about the censure of Trustee Hutcheon and called for an independent investigation into the Board’s governance, specifically the silencing of elected trustees engaged in the performance of their democratic responsibilities. The role of elected trustees, as set out by the Ontario Education Services Corporation (OESC) and accepted by the Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA), is “to maintain a focus on student achievement, well-being and equity and to participate in making decisions that benefit the board’s entire jurisdiction while representing the interests of their constituents… A trustee is responsible for identifying the needs and priorities of their community …. and (to) bring the concerns of these groups to the attention of the board….” [http://elections.ontarioschooltrustees.org/WhatDoTrusteesDo/SchoolBoardTrustees.aspx]

The LDSB’s strict governance rules, as interpreted by Director of Education Debra Rantz, deserve to be challenged as a breach of proper democratic governance. Elected trustees have every right to represent the concerns of a constituent, to uphold student human rights, and should not be tried in private and reprimanded in public. Such actions serve to undermine trust in publicly elected officials at all levels.

It’s time for a full, comprehensive and independent investigation of the public’s concerns to restore public trust in elected Trustees and their ability to represent the public.

— Christine Innocente

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