Administrators appalled by school board’s handling of ethics breach

Source: CBC

Kathryn Greenaway, Montreal Gazette

Lester B. Pearson School Board senior administrators have sent a letter to the board’s council of commissioners calling the way the council handled ethics breaches by its chair Suanne Stein Day “appalling.”

Stein Day publicly acknowledged her multiple breaches of the board’s ethics code during a council meeting Nov. 28, 2016. At the same meeting, the council voiced its unanimous support of the chair and declared the matter “resolved and closed.”

The letter described the declaration of support as insulting as well as dismissive of “an entire year of distress and uncertainty felt by our membership.”

The senior administrators who sent the letter belong to the Association québécoise des cadres scolaires (AQCS) which represents administrative employees working for 72 francophone and anglophone school boards throughout the province.

The letter condemned the way council made the decision to support the chair, saying board staff was not consulted and the decision was made behind closed doors. “Your actions have cast a shadow over the organization and caused damage to the reputation of our members,” it read.

 The letter, dated Dec. 16, 2016, requested a meeting with director general Michael Chechile to discuss how administrative staff would interact with council and the chair moving forward.

“Council responded to the letter from the association before the holidays and invited the association leadership to meet with us,” Stein Day said in an email exchange. “As of this time they have not responded to the invitation.”

The president for the local chapter of the AQCS which represents LBPSB staff was not available for comment.

Last September it was announced that a LBPSB commissioner had breached three articles in the board’s code of ethics plus one article in Quebec’s Education Act on three separate occasions in 2016, but the identity of the commissioner was not revealed. The secrecy did not play well in the media, nor with the LBPSB community at large.

The letter from AQCS members said that council’s action lacked transparency and that AQCS members had lost confidence in both the council and Stein Day, but stopped short of requesting that the chair resign. The letter stated that the council’s support of Stein Day “knowingly set a precedent that breaching your own code of ethics is acceptable.”

“Any lack of transparency was imposed by the ethics commissioner to protect persons involved, including members of this association,” Stein Day wrote. “Council’s goal is simply to move forward so that we can continue to function effectively in the best interest of our students.”

It’s been a rough ride for the board over the last months.

On the heels of Stein Day’s breach-of-ethics announcement, word came that the Quebec government had assigned an auditor to look into alleged financial irregularities involving certain LBPSB programs. Quebec’s anti-corruption squad UPAC is also investigating

ACDSA Editorial Note: There is only one way for the LBPSB to move forward “in the best interest of the students” and that is for Suanne Stein Day to resign immediately from the position of LBPSB chairman. The Council itself,  for the welfare of the LBPSB, must have the collective  fortitude to admit that it mishandled this entire  case and collectively demand the resignation of the Chairman and file this collective request with the Minister of Education. 

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