The Lester B. Pearson School Board has a shameless Chairman who is supported by a group of spineless commissioners. They have an obsession for secrecy, underpinned by questionable financial dealings. Recently, the board announced that one of its commissioners, on three separate occasions, had been found guilty, ‘in law and in fact’ of breaching their ethics guidelines. Although intending to keep the findings confidential, it was later leaked that the guilty party was its Chairman, Suanne Stein-Day, and thousands of dollars were siphoned from public funds to pay legal fees to issue gag orders to protect her from public scrutiny. Under normal circumstances, a Chairman, now scandalously exposed, would do the honorable thing and resign. However, she compounds her unethical behavior with a lack of moral propriety and refuses to step down. Normally other commissioners would demand her resignation, but displaying backbones made of rubber, they continue to support her, meekly muttering that the board ‘must move forward’. No doubt they hope that the stench produced by this moldering mess will dissipate and be forgotten.
Additionally, combined with the disclosure of the Chairman’s unethical behavior, the board took a virtually unprecedented step; they fired a senior administrator. Once again, secrecy rules, neither the employee’s name, nor the reasons for firing were revealed. However, since that decision, that person has come forward, is challenging her dismissal, and indicated that she had been one of a number of employees who had signed a letter, detailing the complaints of unethical behavior by Stein Day. Moreover, this particular employee was in charge of the international program which generates millions for the board. When programs involve millions, the government becomes interested and it has dispatched its auditors and its anti-corruption forces [UPAC] to analyze the financial practices at the Pearson Board.
Maybe if this commission is failing to execute its obligations with due diligence, the English community is left to rely on the government to do the job. Government ‘interference’ is the height of irony for Quebec’s English Boards [QESBA] who instinctively oppose any government intervention, intimating it would be an infringement on constitutional rights. QESBA also becomes a tainted organization, as long as the disgraced Stein Day remains as one of its senior executives. Its notion of being the English community’s voice is mix of hyperbole and downright hypocrisy for they represent neither the larger community nor individual school communities. At Pearson, the commissioners mirror QESBA, who also focus on what they see as best for individual board members. Will it take the community arriving at a Pearson board meeting with pitchforks to convince them to leave?
Jim Wilson (Ex president of the Pearson Teachers Union) Letter to the Suburban