EMSB loses another experienced administrator

Source: Katherine Wilton – Montreal Gazette
March 14, 2017

An experienced and highly regarded administrator at the English Montreal School Board is leaving his job next month because of an ongoing conflict with board chairperson Angela Mancini.

Angelo Marino, the board’s deputy director general, has decided to resign because he has lost confidence in Mancini and feels that she and vice-chairperson Sylvia Lo Bianco continue to interfere in the day-to-day operations of the board.

Marino declined to comment on his departure. But people who know him have told the Montreal Gazette that Marino feels disrespected as a senior administrator and is fed up with the way some senior members of the council of commissioners are treating board employees.

In his resignation letter, Marino wrote that “members of the administration have been subject (both in private and public) to defamatory comments, actions, gestures and questions in an effort to humiliate staff or make employees look incompetent.”

Marino wrote that he feels that “the English Montreal School Board can only be successful when all stakeholders are allowed to express their opinions and feel that they are heard and respected by all levels of the organization.” 

In November, Marino was one of 12 senior EMSB administrators who signed a letter sent to the council of commissioners complaining that the chair and vice-chair were too meddlesome.

The administrators were also outraged that commissioners on Mancini’s team tried to appoint Lo Bianco’s brother-in-law to a senior position at the board and ignored other more qualified candidates. The relative withdrew his candidacy after the controversy.

“There has been continuing conflict since the letter was signed,” a source has told the Montreal Gazette. 

In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Mancini said she was surprised by Marino’s resignation but added that she doesn’t believe that he has lost confidence in her. Mancini acknowledged that there have been differences of opinion on the roles of commissioners and members of the administration, but said they are working with a facilitator to resolve those issues.

She said the EMSB has a young management team and there have been growing pains. As an elected commissioner, she said it’s her responsibility “to ask a variety of questions so we have the information to make the best decisions.”

If the council of commissioners overturns a decision made by the administration, it’s not a sign of disrespect, she said. Mancini also denied that she is rude to staff and said she listens to what employees have to say. She also said she is not at the board on a day-to-day basis.

School commissioner Joseph Lalla said Marino’s departure will be “an incredible loss” to the board.

“Mr. Marino has always been the voice of reason, patience and optimism,” he said. “He has always been the person to go to with any questions.”

Lalla said Marino’s resignation had dealt a severe blow to the morale among his peers and board employees.

“They feel absolutely terrible, some of them were actually crying when they heard of his departure,” he said.  

Marino is scheduled to leave his post on April 21.

Lalla said the board has lost three experienced senior administrators over the past two years.

“There are obviously political overtones to all of this,” he said.

The EMSB’s council of commissioners is made up of 10 elected commissioners and four parent commissioners. The council’s main role is to oversee board operations, while administrators at the board look after the day-to-day running of the EMSB. The elected council has been dogged by political infighting since the board’s inception in 1998 with the creation of linguistic school boards. And allegations of nepotism have also swirled around the board over the years.

When the 12 senior administrators wrote the letter in November, they were responding to an email from Mancini about the possibility of holding a retreat to discuss respective roles and responsibilities.

Last month, senior administrators and members of council sat down with an expert in conflict management to try to resolve some of their differences. Other meetings are planned in the future, said board spokesperson Michael Cohen.

In December, the province’s anti-corruption squad, UPAC, announced that it would investigate unspecified alleged irregularities at the EMSB. Mancini said investigators have not visited the board but said she is hopeful they will come soon.

 

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