The decision by the Education Minister of Québec to audit the CSDM is none too soon but it be a mistake to stop there. All school boards in Québec need to be audited and not just a regular audit. Forensic audits is what is needed to root out mismanagement and corruption.
Independent audits are only a partial answer. What are really needed are forensic audits for regular audits are cursory at best. In most school boards expenses of less than $10 000 do not require approval and is treated more like petty cash with accounting practices to match. I asked for Access to Info on expense account of an ex Director General to be told that most of the receipts claims etc. could not be found.
Having seen the system from within, it is obvious that many administrative costs can be hidden by including those costs within student programs and thus not being actually tied to administrative expenses. The last time I checked, schools are being charged fees by the school boards to “administer” services supplied.
Lastly, the Education Minister must assign a forensic auditor to all school boards who run International school programs. Currently the funds obtained through these programs are unregulated. In a recent LBPSB meeting, the director of finance admitted that five million dollars came into the school board coffers in one year, yet it is handled as a one line item with no transparency whatsoever. How much is used by administration to shore up their administrative account to make it appear that only 5% is spent on administrative costs? Who knows? Furthermore, how much money is exchanged in the overseas offices of the LBPSB or any other school board? Who knows? What is a certainty is that foreign students, who often pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend these school boards, are placed in the schools classrooms with very little if any support for the teacher. The reality for a teachers classroom is one in which they already deal with discipline problems, integration and oversized classes, now on top of that they get a non-English speaking student or students to deal with for which the school board gets a tremendous amount of money but none of it , or very little, ending up in the classroom to help the frontline of education; teachers
Yes, Mr. Bolduc carry out your CSDM audit but make it a forensic audit. Even better yet, assign UPAC to investigate the books of every school board in the province and especially check into the financial opaqueness of their International School programs. Our students, our teachers, our principals, our tax payers deserve better. Much better.
Board resists additional
Education Minister Yves Bolduc says an independent financial audit of the province’s largest school board is the only way to determine if it is truly unable to conform to government budget requirements.
JACQUES BOISSINOT/ THE CANADIAN PRESS Education Minister Yves Bolduc is determined to get an “objective evaluation” of board finances.In Montreal on Friday for the opening of a new athletic training complex at Olympic Stadium, Bolduc said an auditor will be named in the coming days and will conduct a thorough review of the Commission scolaire de Montréal’s books.
“At this point, it’s important to have an objective evaluation to summarize their situation,” Bolduc said.
At its latest school commissioners meeting, held this week, the CSDM passed a motion committing itself to a projected $5 million in savings in the coming year, part of which will come from the sale of redundant properties ($4 million). The school board, which has an annual budget of about $980 million but has been running a deficit of nearly $30 million, has argued that repeated cuts in recent years have left it struggling to maintain its programs and services.
But the province said the belt must be tightened further, and instructed CSDM to slice nearly $9 million this coming year.
CSDM president Catherine Harel-Bourdon told reporters on Thursday that the independent auditor will be given complete access to the board’s financials, but that “I don’t get the sense that (the government) really understands us.”
If the auditor sides with the board, Bolduc said Friday, then “we will discuss that with them. (Thursday) I sensed an openness on the part of the CSDM to co-operate and I welcome that co-operation. We will see with the report what actions need to be taken.”
The minister said that if the province encounters refusals from other boards, the response could be similar.
“If other school boards go down the same road, meaning that they do not table a balanced budget which respects the law, we will determine the actions to be taken.”
The English Montreal School Board is looking at $3.8 million in cuts for the coming year.
Bolduc, who has faced increasing pressure from the opposition to resign in recent weeks following revelations that he claimed $215,000 in premiums for taking on new patients (who were subsequently abandoned) while he was a member of the opposition, showed no signs on Friday that he is preparing to leave political life behind. He has stated repeatedly that he will remain in office.
Bolduc said in July he will return some of the bonus money he received, but only for the 400 patients he followed for less than 12 months. In all, he will return $55,072.50 split between the Régie de l’Assurance Maladie du Québec and two charities.
Source: Montreal Gazette Sept 20, 2014
Voici ma traduction d’un communiqué de presse émis par trois citoyens (je fais partie du groupe). – Michèle Poupore
COMMUNNIQUÉ DE PRESSE
Les trois citoyens qui ont déposé une plainte au commissaire à l’éthique à la Commission scolaire Lester B.Pearson contestent le jugement et le communiqué de presse émis par la commission scolaire Lester B.Pearson. Les allégations du groupe portaient sur un potentiel conflit d’intérêt de la présidente de la commission scolaire Suanne Stein Day.
Cindy Mac Donald, Michèle Poupore et Luc Horne, les demandeurs, ont annoncé leur ferme intention de contester le jugement de MeGrenier, le communiqué de presse émis par la Commission scolaire Lester B.Pearson ainsi qu’une partie du code d’éthique en vigueur à la commission scolaire.
Après avoir analysé le jugement en profondeur, le groupe compte entreprendre des actions. Entre temps, le groupe tient à divulguer certains détails qui permettent de suivre l’évolution de ce dossier.
1. Contrairement à ce qui est indiqué dans le communiqué de presse de la commission scolaire et dans le rapport rédigé par MeGrenier, Mme MacDonald, Mme Poupore et M.Horne n’ont pas reçu de courriels les invitant à une seconde rencontre avec Me Grenier. Malgré, l’importance d’assurer un suivi dans ce dossier, aucune tentative n’a été faite afin de les contacter par voie téléphonique ou par courrier.
2. Ils sont également surpris que la personne chargée de coordonner le dossier à la commission scolaire n’ai pas tenté de les rejoindre.
3. Le 8 septembre, lorsqu’elle a pris contact avec la firme de Me Grenier, Mme Poupore a appris que Me Grenier serait absent, jusqu’à la fin du mois de septembre.
4. M. Horne n’a jamais rencontré Me Grenier, bien qu’il soit un des plaignants dans ce dossier. M.Horne se demande comment une décision légale peut être prise sans le témoignage d’un demandeur. Il souligne l’iniquité dans le traitement de la plainte. La défenderesse dans ce dossier Mme Stein Day, qui agit également à titre de présidente du comité d’éthique à la commission scolaire, a été contactée à trois reprises.
5. Les trois citoyens se demandent comment il se fait que la commission scolaire ne retrouve pas, un document aussi important [qu'une déclaration d'intérêts].
6. Les trois citoyens soulignent que le rapport n’est ni daté ni signé par Me Grenier.
By: Carmen Marie Fabio – Your Local Journal
“How can a legal decision be made when one of the complainants never had an opportunity to present his testimony?” - Complainant Luc Horne
Following the release of a Lester B. Pearson School Board communiqué September 16 announcing that conflict of interest allegations made against LBPSB Chairman Suanne Stein Day have been deemed unfounded by the board’s Ethics Commissioner Bernard Grenier, the complainants issued notice of their intent to challenge the decision.
Dated September 12, Grenier, of the law firm Schurman, Longo and Grenier, stated in his report that though the supporting documents used by one of the complainants, Cindy MacDonald, covered several aspects of Stein Day’s management as LBSPB Chair, “The analysis in this report will deal strictly with allegations of conflict of interest brought against Mrs. Stein Day.”
The charges brought by MacDonald, Michèle Poupore, and Luc Horne allege Stein Day’s duties as board chair conflicted with her position as Executive member of the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA). The charges allege Stein Day repeatedly involved herself in discussions and decisions involving membership, and fundraising issues and that she had, “Privileged access to students, schools, and school brokering and contractors’ activities for fundraising purposes, at the expense of class hours, transparency, the community (e.g. potential service providers) and the rights of parents and taxpayers.”
The report detailed Grenier’s subsequent meetings and conversations with both Stein Day and the complainants and said that though he sent two emails to MacDonald and Poupore to set up further meetings, they did not respond. Both women said they never received either email.
Grenier’s report specifies that Stein Day signed an interest disclosure form for the LBPSB – noting LBPSB authorities have had difficulty finding that document – and also signed five interest disclosure forms, one as Director of the QFHSA dated September 6, 2013. Grenier’s report concludes, “The evidence before me does not support allegations taken against Mrs. Stein Day for conflict of interest.”
Within hours of the school board’s communiqué, the complainants issued a press release outlining their intentions to challenge the ruling. Though the release states the group is still in the process of analyzing the ruling, they are contradicting a number of points made in the Ethics Commissioner’s report alleging they didn’t receive follow-up emails, phone calls, or letters. Furthermore Horne, though named as a complainant says he, was never interviewed and asks, “How can a legal decision be made when one of the complainants never had an opportunity to present his testimony?”
Their release concludes with the observation, “…the ruling was not signed by Me. Grenier himself and that the ruling lacked a date which is of importance in terms of how the case has been handled.”
Reached following the issue of the press release, Horne told Your Local Journal he and his fellow complainants are discussing their next move.
“Certainly all options are on the table,” he said. “We’re considering political action in terms of school board elections, (contacting) the ministry of education, the ministry of justice, (and) we’re certainly not excluding UPAC (Unité permanente anticorruption).”
Horne also questioned why the legal counsel of the board is responsible for filing all the case documentation and said the ethics commissioner is paid by the very school board against which the complaint has been filed.
“Of course Ms. Day wasn’t surprised by the ruling, it was never properly conducted. Sounds like Stein Day has Bernard Grenier on her payroll, and that doesn’t surprise me.” Jerry Bergstein (Commenting on Global News article – “Complainants to contest LBPSB conflict-of-interest ruling”)
Well, Jerry Bergstein, you are probably more right than most people might think because Me Grenier is indeed paid for his services as ethics commissioner by the LBPSB of which Mrs. Stein Day is the chairman and lo and behold also the chairman of the ethics committee.
How on earth?
Well, the LBPSB code of Ethics is probably your best source:
Note that Article 7.1 of the LBPSB Code of Ethics states the following:
“Designation of the person charged with the enforcement of the code The Council of Commissioners appoints by resolution, a person responsible for the enforcement of the code. The designated person must be someone who has a professional background in law with at least 10 years experience. The term for the person responsible for the enforcement of the code begins the day of his/her nomination and ends at the end of the term for the members of the Council of Commissioners. As well the Council of Commissioners determines the remuneration of the designated person.
A representative from the directors general’s office, coordinates the work of the person responsible for the enforcement of the code. The representative from the directors general’s office must respect the confidentiality of the information and work performed, and not have any potential or actual conflict of interest.”
So in summary, the LBPSB pays the ethics commissioner who in turn has to rule on submitted ethics complaints filed against the board, the same board from which he/she gets her very pay.
Talk about a conflict of interest condition within the LBPSB Code of ethics; a code which was established to counter that kind of situation.
The three complainants who filed allegations of conflict of interest against LBPSB Chairman Suanne Stein Day will contest ruling by Me. Grenier and the respective LBPSB Press release.
Cindy MacDonald, Michèle Poupore and Luc Horne who filed a conflict of interest against LBPSB Chairman Suanne Stein Day, announced this afternoon that they will vigorously contest the ruling issued by Me Grenier, the LBPSB press release and a segment of the LBPSB Code of Ethics.
Although the three will supply the media with more details after having had time to completely analyze the ruling as a group, they are disclosing some facts, in advance, as it applies to the case.
- Contrary to what is stated in the report and the LBPSB Press Release, Ms. MacDonald, Ms. Poupore and Mr. Horne never received a follow up email for another meeting from Me. Grenier. Despite the importance of the issue, they never received a follow up phone call or a letter from Me. Grenier regarding the proposed meeting.
- They note that it is puzzling why the representative from the LBPSB directors general’s office never contacted them when hearing that Me Grenier could not allegedly contact said parties.
- On Monday, September 8th, 2014 Ms. Poupore called Me. Greniers office to express the groups concern in regards to having received no follow up meeting date with Me. Grenier. Ms. Poupore was informed that Me. Grenier could not be reached for he was out of the country for the month of September.
- Mr. Horne, despite being one of the complainants, was never interviewed by the Ethics Commissioner. Mr. Horne noted “How can a legal decision be made when one of the complainants never had an opportunity to present his testimony” Furthermore, he questioned why the LBPSB chairman Mrs. Suanne Stein Day, who incidentally is also the chairman of the LBPSB Ethics Committee, was permitted three interviews with Me. Grenier while he himself received none.
- All three complainants question how a school board in charge of thousands of student files cannot find a document pertinent to this case as is documented in the ruling.
- The three also noted that the ruling was not signed by Me. Grenier himself and that the ruling lacked a date which is of importance in terms of how the case has been handled.
As indicated, Ms. MacDonald, Ms. Poupore and Mr. Horne will follow up with more information to the press.
Linguistic school boards have outlived their usefulness
James Watts hits the nail on the head, by suggesting a fusion of education institutions.
In her recent article (“How English schools can survive,” Opinion, Sept. 5) Anne Lagacé-Dowson claimed that for English schools to survive, they must produce fluent French speakers who can thrive in Quebec. Surely, for French-speaking parents, the corollary applies; to succeed in North America demands English fluency. Unfortunately, Quebec parents, whose children lack eligibility for English schools, face many obstacles in finding a school that promotes both languages.
Despite their definition as being English schools, virtually all English elementary schools in Montreal’s metropolitan area should be more accurately considered as bilingual institutions, teaching as much, if not more, in French as they do in English
Ruth Rosenfield (“Criticism of EMSB programs missed the mark” Opinion, Sept. 9), a candidate for school board commissioner, unwittingly weakens the case for English boards; though boasting of the growth of French in the schools, she fails to establish the need for English boards to administer them. As a previous supporter of linguistic boards, I consider that present circumstances dictate that it is now time to bury, not to praise, them.
At this time, thousands of students with rights to an English education attend French schools; the contrary is not legally possible. The introduction of a province wide amalgamated bilingual system could provide all students with the opportunity to develop a second language. Such a change would require administrative overhaul; lest one forget, from 1867 to 1998, boards were designated as Catholic or Protestant, and both managed English and French schools. The English boards cannot prevent the inevitable decline in their enrolment and subsequent closures of schools. Therefore, a new system should be envisaged, where all schools fall under a regional organization. Moreover, with the province’s groaning deficit, a bilingual school system could make the education less costly.
Most important, bilingualism is itself a valuable asset. It is erroneous to think that promoting French was an anglophone reaction to Bill 101. The Home and School Association, representing English parents, requested to the Parent Commission in 1962, that French should begin in kindergarten. Prior to any language legislation, the results of the St-Lambert experiment in immersion education indicated an overall intellectual improvement, with no negative effects on the mother tongue. Consequently, the demand for French immersion, and its growth in the English system has been widespread, but legally stymied in its French counterparts.
Despite bilingualism’s proven value, present language legislation severely curtails the choice of most parents to opt for a bilingual school. Ironically, most English-speaking parents have rights that francophones and immigrants do not. Arguably unintended, it is a rare political event when the majority of citizens support the removal of rights from themselves, while providing them to a minority.
If we were to focus on the schools and not the boards, the Education Act itself could provide an answer; it stipulates that a schools’ governing boards must be satisfied that “the compulsory program objectives and … compulsory contents be acquired.” A bilingual curriculum is not a “one size fits all,” so it is incumbent that parents and the individual school personnel be heavily involved in developing each school’s options. Parents, not boards, would be more responsible and engaged in their schools.
Parents of all linguistic stripes see the value in exposing their children to another language. Unfortunately, the notion of a province-wide system of bilingual schools seems fanciful at present; only by removing the legal shackles could we see its introduction. However, we may see the day when, to paraphrase, Victor Hugo, politicians cannot defeat an idea whose time has come.
Letter to the Gazette: Anglophone parents have been accomplices in the impending death of the English public school system.
Much has been written in The Gazette opinion pages lately (Anne Lagacé Dowson, Ruth Rosenfield, and Jim Wilson) concerning the state of contemporary anglophone education in Quebec. Several of these writers have offered tentative solutions, ranging from increased voter turnout in school board elections to teacher evaluations so as to weed out weak practitioners.
Unfortunately, the hard practical reality is that public school education for anglophones in Quebec as a separate component of the Quebec landscape is dead. No school board election and/or administrative reorganization and/or teacher evaluation is going to halt this inevitable and swiftly accelerating demise.
In their 2012 report (The Decline of the English School System in Quebec), authors Richard Bourhis and Pierre Foucher starkly illustrated the falling numbers that characterize English education. They point out, as but one example, that enrolment in English schools fell by approximately 60 per cent between 1972 and 2007. Again, via analyzing official government data, the original aim of Bill 101 to limit (and eventually crush) the English schooling of Quebec students has succeeded.
Furthermore, with approximately 12 to 15 per cent of eligible English students attending French schools, and another 10 to 15 per cent attending private English schools, the mathematical future is dim with little reason to suspect any kind of rebound.
How can any educational system survive the strangulation as imposed by Bill 101, along with the growing number of limitations by various governmental agencies?
This official system restriction has been openly aided by English parents in that approximately 20 to 25 per cent of contemporary students are deliberately siphoned off into French schools and/or private schools by the very citizens who one might imagine would be at the heart and soul of an English system.
As in all cases of imminent death, we must recognize the inevitable and begin a regime of palliative care so as to gently put the English school system to rest: it can no longer sustain itself and its ability to meet even marginal educational successes over the next decade is doubtful.
Par Michèle Poupore
Malgré tous les efforts qui ont été faits en amont, en ce qui a trait aux politiques encadrant les frais exigés aux parents, il semble que les responsables siégeant dans les conseils d’établissement ne comprennent pas ou ne veulent pas comprendre. Plusieurs parents, en ont assez de payer des frais qui augmentent de manière frénétique. Ce dans un contexte où les taxes scolaires ont augmenté. On pourrait même croire que l’école compte sur les parents afin de combler le déficit budgétaire… Heureusement, certains parents ont pris le taureaux par les cornes et agissent afin de changer les choses.
D’abord, en 2006, un recours collectif contre la Commission scolaire Grandes Seigneuries en Montérégie a été initié par un parent. Ce n’est que 5 anneés plus tard que la commission scolaire conclura une entente avec les parents. Notamment, la commission scolaire remettra en 2010 près de 740 000$ aux parents pour des frais illégaux couvrant la période 2004-2010 (voir l’article de la Presse 2013). Malheureusement, le parent ayant initié la cause ainsi que plusieurs autres n’ont pas pu recevoir d’argent puisque leurs enfants ne fréquentaient plus les écoles de la commission scolaire (voir, l‘article du site Protégéz-vous, 2014).
Puis, en 2013 un recours collectif a été intenté au nom des 900 000 élèves fréquentant 68 des 72 commissions scolaires de la province. Les plaignants réclament près de 300 millions en raison des frais illégaux facturés aux parents (dictionnaires, grammaires, calculatrice, instruments de musique). Outre les fournitures scolaires, le regroupement examine la possibilité d’inclure certaines sorties scolaires et la surveillance du midi. Selon un article trouvé sur le site Protégez-vous, le Cour supérieure du Québec décidera d’ici peu si l’action collective contre les 68 commissions scolaires sera autorisée.
Un dossier à suivre….toutefois fort à parier que non seulement le parent dont l’enfant ne fréquente plus la commission scolaire n’aura pas de compensation mais encore si le parent est propriétaire, il contribuera à payer son propre recours via la taxe scolaire ou encore via la taxe provinciale…Bref, selon le système actuel, ce ne seront pas les décideurs qui payent pour leurs erreurs mais le contribuable. Pas fort, pas très motivant.
Il faudrait à mon avis revoir la législation, plus précisément le fait qu’un élu agissant de «bonne foi» ne peut être poursuivie… surtout lorsque cela permet de prendre des décisions qui vont à l’encontre de la loi.
After running away from the Liberal MP Nomination contest for the safer confines of the tax payer supported QESBA, Marcus Tabachnick the ex. DG of the Lester B. Pearson School Board got personal in his attacks on his detractors. Particularly Luc Horne one of the co-founders of ACDSA who had placed the following comment under an article in the West Island Gazette.
“Opposition to Tabachnick’s quest to become the Liberal Rep was so strong that he backed away from a true political run. But the QESBA offered him a backdoor to withdraw from the race. Although he claims that he loves politics, his positions at the LBPSB was mostly by acclamation because no one else was running.”
In his rebuttal to Horne’s West Island Gazette critique, he stated the following in the West Island Gazette.
“Mr. Horne has never let facts get in the way of his distorted views. Fact, I had a nomination committee of more than 30 working for my nomination. Fact, our committee had signed up hundreds of supporters. Fact, the only opposition that was public was from Mr. Horne’s friends – a tactic he uses regularly to try to show that his warped sense has support. Fact, more than 30 people applied for the position at the QESBA and the process (I am told) was quite rigorous, and to state that there was some backdoor deal is typical for a man with no original ideas and who has contributed nothing but whining and complaining to the community.”
Horne’s criticism either hit home or Mr. Tabachnick is concerned about his friends’ future in the upcoming school board election. In any case a response is warranted to the slanderous personal comments made by a QESBA official, M. Tabachnick, who collects his pay from our collective taxes. Here then, is Luc Horne’s response:
As usual Mr. Tabachnick uses personal attacks to silence his justified critics. As usual Mr. Tabachnick doesn’t read correctly what is stated. I stated that there was an opportunity to withdraw from the Liberal race through a backdoor into the QESBA. A backdoor does not mean that there was a back door deal but merely that there was a means to withdraw from the race in a more or less honorable fashion. If Mr. Tabachnick does indeed know more about back door deals then please let him inform us.
If indeed there were 30 people applying for the QESBA position, then it might make one reasonably pose the question why withdraw from the Liberal nomination race? Furthermore, it wouldn’t be disrespectful to ask the question why did he actually apply for the QESBA position with that many running and turn his back on the Liberal nomination race when by his own account he had, “30 working for my nomination.” Of course it is important to note that some of these were former LBPSP commissioners or employees.
As for his attack on my personal character, maybe I should remind Mr. Tabachnick that I was in part instrumental in getting a new school built in St. Lazare to replace Vaudreuil Catholic High School which was located within the Cite des Jeunes campus. This new school, currently named Westwood Junior, and which was initially called Vaudreuil County High School. All this having occurred, after Mr. Tabachnick’s suggested site at the Pincourt community center was opposed by the local population.
Furthermore, Mr. Tabachnick might recall that I was instrumental in getting the ventilation system of BHS cleaned and certain sections closed for the safety, health and welfare of the students and staff. It is interesting to note that while I got 99% of the staff to sign a petition demanding the cleanup, Mr. Tabachnick was quoted in the Gazette, at that time, that the only one demanding the clean-up was Mr. Horne. Talk about misconstruing the facts. It is important to note that subsequent to full media coverage of the LBPSB dragging its feet on the issue and until forced by the CSST to do the cleanup at BHS, the province went on a blitz to clean up all the school ventilation systems in the province.
Furthermore, it is incredible to read that, after twenty five years of being at the LBPSB, Mr. Tabachnicks closing comments in the article that “A school principal’s job is pedagogical leadership” Really? They don’t administer their schools? This is where Mr. Tabachnicks practical educational knowledge seems lacking for everyone who has worked in a school realizes that there are administrative duties carried out by principals.
Where Tabachnick and I differ is that I believe that schools must be more autonomous and that principals should have greater leadership powers viz a viz their schools. Whereas, he believes that schools should be directed from the school board head office.
My word of advice to Mr. Tabachnick in his role at the QESBA……… is stick to the facts as they were and are. You opted to step out of real politics by withdrawing from the Liberal nomination race, please don’t use politics to distort the facts at the QESBA or the facts about schools and school boards. Our children deserve much better.