International Travel Course: “On the tax payer’s dime”, offered by experienced Administrators and Council members at a School Board Near You.

Should Sebastien Proulx, issue a moratorium on international travel for commissioners and school board officials at the EMSB, LBPSB and other Anglo school boards?

Quebec’s Education Minister recently appointed Mme Michelle Lapointe, an auditor, to look into the management and ethical practices at the EMSB and LBPSB. Furthermore, the minister also confirmed that Quebec’s anti-corruption unit (UPAC) and police are also investigating.

One area which will no doubt be investigated will be the International Student Programs which, based on certain media reports, appear to be riddled with questionable practices. What we do know already is that some commissioners and school board officials have been travelling for years on the public’s dime to China, Korea and other countries while schools are falling apart, students go without books and  school supplies,  and schools are apparently being closed to save money.

In an EMSB press release dated 2009, we learn that “Representatives of the EMSB have been attending an Education Fair in Korea for the past several years”. Another press release dated October 25, 2010, we find out that a certain Mr. Min Sik Kim has a crucial job at the EMSB, that “he is the face of English Montreal to hundreds of South Korean students and their parents”. According to this press release, “with two trips a year, Kim works alongside both the government of Canada and the Republic of Korea as well as various educational representatives to ensure that the EMSB has a prominent presence at various education fairs and expositions”.

In another other press release dated December 9th, 2010, Joseph Petraglia (chair of the AEVS committee), Cosmo Della Rocca “recently returned from a two week recruitment mission to China”. According to other EMSB press releases dated November 11, 2011, January 23, 2012,  May 28, 2012, December 13, 2013, we find out that other EMSB delegations gingerly made their way to the land of the middle kingdom. Along with administrators, Commissioners Ellie Israel (chair AEVS), Bernard Praw, Frank Verillo, Ginette Sauvé Frankel, also traveled with the delegations.  Minutes of the Proceedings of the English Montreal School board dated February 26, 2014 indicate that EMSB delegations to China were on their 5th such trip.  Futhermore,  CBC reported that in 2013 and 2014, the EMSB set sail for France to recruit students for its international program.

The travel bug on the public’s dime appears to be contagious as the same is going on at other school boards, namely the LBPSB and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board where officials traveled to China and India.

Thankfully, the Minister has ordered an audit and UPAC and the police are investigating. In the meantime, a moratorium on international travel, whether associated with the ISPs and/or elected officials who accompany adult students on overseas educational field trips, would be welcome and is long overdue.

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