LETTERS: A supporter of former RDSB trustee weighs in on his legacy

Shares a tale of two letters with the public

To the Expositor:

Friday, November 30 was a significant day in Larry Killens’ life. It marks the end of his term as the Trustee for Manitoulin Island residents at the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB). 

It was probably also a significant day for the current chair, Doreen Dewar. Despite the vicious attempt by his peers to silence Trustee Killens by banning him from representing our interests at the RDSB table for the last five months of his tenure, an act that is under investigation by the Ontario Ombudsman’s office as to its legality, he remains to be, in my eyes and I am certain in the eyes of many of those he represented, students and parents alike, a man of integrity, honesty and tenacity.

Larry fought for the rights of those he represented by being outspoken on issues that were of concern to the students of Manitoulin. Higher than acceptable lead levels in the water, lack of transportation for students to attend off-Island sports competitions and field trips, excessive spending of our tax dollars on a bubble dome in Sudbury that our students will no doubt not be able to take advantage of are just a few. 

Larry shared with me two letters he recently received, one from the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and the other from Bob Dewar, the husband of the chair. They are polar opposites in their message. The former speaks to Larry’s dedication, wishing him success in his next stage of life and closes with “Your legacy is a profound one, in your life of public service to the children of Ontario, you have touched the future, contributing to the shaping of generations yet to come.” The latter, “I hope that the increased days of leisure, both on  The Island and in Zephyr Hills, will permit you ample opportunity to reflect on how dismal is your legacy as trustee (sic). I believe that your greatest contribution to education has been your decision to leave the leadership and care of our school children to those trustees who actually have a positive attitude and a desire to provide the best educational climate possible in all Rainbow schools. For this one final decision I say, “Thank you and good riddance.”

December 1 marked the first day that Larry Killens will be able to speak about the RDSB without being censored. He will be able to speak out without fear of repercussion, and I am sure that he will hold feet to the fire if he thinks that the interests of the students here on Manitoulin Island are not being well served. I am certain that the “old rank and file” of the board will no doubt ignore him, and the audacity of those who question them, much as they have in the past, but therein lies his tenacity. 

I want to sincerely thank Larry Killens for his long time public service in representing the interests of the students and parents of Manitoulin Island and wish him good health in the years to come. You, sir, are a gentleman.

Kim Bilbija