Litany of Rainbow School Board decisions read with dismay

More restrictive, secretive and less transparent to both the public and themselves

To the Expositor:

Director Norm Blaseg has recently indicated “we’re creating a different storyline” with respect to Accommodation Reviews. Here are some of the recent controversial decisions the board has mandated and handed down under the guidance of Chair Doreen Dewar since the last accommodation review occurred.

1) The board, by majority vote, has made it more difficult for the public to make presentations to the board .

2) Denied live streaming of their public meetings despite the fact that many other school boards in Ontario do.

3) Banned the public from video or audio recording of the board’s public meetings (press excluded).

4) Effective October 2, 2012 on the recommendation of Director and the Chair, banned two parents from the RDSB office and all RDSB secondary schools (all locations where Board meetings are held), without providing any official notice, hearing or procedural process of why they had been sanctioned, what the length of the sanction is, or when the imposed sanction will come up for review or how the review process would work.

5) At the September 23, 2014 board meeting, when a motion was brought forward by Trustees Kirwin and Killens to remove the trespass ban (as noted in point 4), Trustee Killens, the “seconder” required for a motion was ordered by Chair Dewar to leave the meeting, thus ensuring that the motion could not move forward. The public was also asked to leave. When the public was invited to return, along with Trustee Killens, the motion to remove/revisit the sanction disappeared.

6) The board majority refused to address safety and procedural concerns raised by one of their own trustees regarding the Sudbury Student Services Consortium (ie. busing issues).

7) The board majority adopted a revised set of Accommodation Review guidelines which allows for a shortened process with less opportunity for public input. While being a government mandated change, the Trustees have the power to amend the timelines (but have not).

8) The board majority banned all note-taking by trustees during in camera meetings

9) On September 13, 2016, the board attempted to refuse trustees the ability to participate in camera meetings using electronic methods (ie. teleconferencing or videoconferencing), which would directly impact on those trustees representing rural areas (like Trustees Larry Killens, Grace Fox and Bob Clement). Chair Dewar’s reasoning for moving this motion – 1) it will stop breaches of confidentiality from occurring, and 2) the board’s Code of Conduct (which governs how breaches are dealt with) is too onerous to deal with. So a backdoor solution is required. Thankfully, this motion, which was supported only by Trustees Bob Clement, Dena Morrison and Tyler Campbell, was soundly defeated.

Note: None of the 29 school boards in the province have adopted motions similar to the last two items.

To recap, since the last Accommodation Review, the Rainbow District School Board has become more restrictive, secretive, and less transparent, not only towards the public, but also with respect to themselves.

Maybe Director Blaseg is right–we are getting a different storyline. A tragedy.

Kirk Dopson

Sudbury