TORONTO - It seems that the Ministry of Education remains unconvinced that the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) is serious about addressing issues of discrimination and human rights.
After receiving a written “action plan” by the Board on what measures it would take to deal with the ethnic/race-based bullying in its schools, the Minister, in display of disappointment, has decided to nominate not one, but two Ministry Reviewers with the task of setting things right.
The Board’s position on Staff, Student and Trustee conduct on issues of Human Rights and student welfare came across as “milktoast-like ” at best, according to a reliable source. No surprise here.
Voluntary participation in sensitivity training is poor substitute for the psychological damage inflicted on and suffered by children in the care of the Board.
The real issue is Leadership. It is under the mandate of the Board’s Director of Education that these conditions were allowed to emerge and develop, seemingly without the administrative responses the public should come to take for granted.
The public, and some Superintendents, have taken to challenging his commitment to issues of human rights and his competence to deliver a strategy for the Board that would include respect for the cultural diversity and for the dignity of individual children/students.
“An urgent review of the board is needed. I am appointing Patrick Case and Sue Herbert to review the governance and performance issues at the YRDSB”, Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education wrote in a statement.
“The reviewers will recommend improvements, particularly regarding equity, accountability and transparency, to regain public confidence in the school board. In addition, they will recommend ways to improve the working relationships at the board, including amongst trustees, between the board and the director of education, between the director of education and senior staff, and with the community.
In addition, they will review whether board members and the director of education are fulfilling their legislated duties”.
A Ministry Reviewer assigned to examine the procedural competencies invoked in this sad affair may even uncover the special talents that the Director, Mr. Parapally, brought to the table to earn him a contract whose compensation conditions were unique in the province.
At a Board meeting earlier this week and consistent with his style, Mr. Parapally remained silent, almost aloof, in the face of parent protestors who had come to present a petition signed by over 1600 parents anxious to have him and the Board right the wrongs their families were suffering at the hands of the YRDSB.
“My colleagues and I want all students, parents, staff and community members to have confidence in our publicly funded education system, and to ensure transparent and accountable school board governance that nurtures and respects inclusive and equitable education”, the Minister wrote in the statement.
The other York Region Board would do well to heed the signs – the Ministry is not willing to shoulder the burden of locally created problems.