School board says no no to parent request to have the Ontario Leader of the Opposition pay a visit to a school threatened with closure.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 14, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board has denied a request to have Progressive Conservative Education Critic and party leader MPP Patrick Brown visit two Burlington High Schools.

Representatives from Robert Bateman and Lester B. Pearson Parent Councils submitted requests to have Brown visit their schools as part of their efforts to highlight the critical roles their schools play in the community.

The denial came from HDSB representative Marnie Denton who told the groups that “there aren’t to be school tours by politicians at this time.” When asked whether this was a Board staff or Trustee decision, Ms Denton provided a three word response “Board staff decision”. No other reasons for the denial of the request were provided despite several requests.

Brecknock Tony

Tony Brecknock

Tony Brecknock, a member of the Pearson Parent Council said “denying a visit to the school – any visit by a very important member of our political system and society – is failing both the students of Pearson and Bateman and the community as a whole.”

Brecknock adds that the Board seems “afraid of the exposure but this is unacceptable in a transparent, democratic society.”
Both Robert Bateman High School and Pearson High School are slated for closure following the HDSB’s Program Accommodation Review (PAR) conducted earlier this year. Committees working to save both schools were successful in their requests to the Ministry of Education for Administrative Reviews – one of the only mechanisms available for communities to fight school closures. Last month, Margaret Wilson was appointed Facilitator for the Reviews currently underway.

Bateman - crowd scene with Bull

Bateman parents and students demonstrating to keep their school open.

Deb Wakem who is a Bateman parent and a member of that Parent Council says that “if the school board is to learn from their mistakes and improve a process which has massive ramifications on the community and our children we need to work together – politicians, the school board, community – to ensure we have the best process in place.

Wakem also suggests that “by not allowing Patrick Brown to visit these amazing schools, the HDSB is merely hiding from responsibility, accountability and transparency.”

MMW with T - shirt

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward with Ontario Leader of the Opposition Patrick Brown at a Queen’s Park rally.

Patrick Brown, the leader of the provincial PC party has been an outspoken critic of the Liberal government’s record of school closures in Ontario and called for a moratorium on such closures in early 2017 well ahead of the government’s current moratorium. As part of the PC’s Recommended Policy Resolutions currently being considered by their members, the party is recommending “an immediate moratorium on school closures and an immediate review of any schools that are slated to close.”

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5 comments to School board says no no to parent request to have the Ontario Leader of the Opposition pay a visit to a school threatened with closure.

  • craig

    we can vote out existing trustees next election but how can we get rid of the biard staff as obviously they must go if we are a democracy

  • George Ward

    Thank you Tony for your above article and appropriate statement the Board seems “afraid of the exposure but this is unacceptable in a transparent, democratic society.” Also thank you for Ms. Deb Wakem’s, a Robert Bateman student parent’s comment: “ … by not allowing Patrick Brown to visit these amazing schools the HDSB (Halton District School Board) is merely hiding from responsibility, accountability and transparency.”

    1. Now lets’ look back at the Gazette Article of Oct. 30, 2017 “The natives are restless – Pearson high school parents think they have figured out what the school board is up to in closing their school.” Commenting on the HDSB Trustee meeting of Wed. Oct. 18, 2017.

    Below is a synopsis of questions asked and the response by the Director of Education Mr. Stuart Miller at this HDSB Trustee meeting:

    Trustee Ms. Amy Collard asks the HDSB Director of Education Miller about: “ … the new administration building.” “And I was wondering if I could get some more information about how far we are along with this process …”.

    The response by Director Miller: “ … I read the article as well … and there is … ah … it is not … there are inaccuracies in it. Ah …”.

    Director Miller fails to identify any inaccuracies as he stumbles through an answer full of pauses.

    A follow-up question by Trustee Amy Collard to the HDSB Director Miller: “Is it perhaps … um … prudent to communicate as to the community that how such a building would be funded and perhaps engage the community a little bit on this?”

    HDSB Director Miller responds: “… we discussed that and we suggested it is probably not prudent … um … at this point … because I think it just … it stays out there for a longer period of time and I think … ah … we end up in debates about it … and so … .”

    Other Lack of transparency examples from HDSB Policy statements and response from the HDSB response to the Save Lester B Pearson request to the Ontario Ministry of Education Administrative Review of July 7, 2017 include:

    2. The Board’s policy states: Processes for decision-making including those related to program, accommodation, school boundary review, school closures/consolidations will be timely, inclusive, transparent and open.

    The Save Lester B. Pearson committee issues stated: As will be established further in the discussions below examples of a lack of timeliness, inclusivity, transparency and openness, have been demonstrated during this process.

    The HDSB Response: Based upon the statement provided there is not a response required.

    3. The Board’s policy states: The HDSB is committed to sharing relevant information with the public and affording affected school communities and stakeholders the opportunity for input.

    The Save Lester B. Pearson committee issues stated: Some community members sought to access information from the Board they felt was relevant to the issues at hand. These efforts were met with roadblocks, and in one case after filing a Freedom of Information (FOI) request the results yielded an incomplete picture of the information sought.

    HDSB Response: Freedom of Information requests were made and information was provided whenever asked. No appeals were launched.

    Now fellow Burlington Gazette readers who are dismayed that the once outstanding communities of Burlington are now very upset with incredible angst due to the Halton District School Board and Trustees plans to close down two Burlington high schools after conducting a process that shows numerous examples of “afraid of the exposure but this is unacceptable in a transparent, democratic society” and “ … merely hiding from responsibility, accountability and transparency.”

  • GLW

    Wikipedia

    I was looking for Lester B. Pearson High School website on the internet when I saw Wikipedia had a story about our local high school. Below are some of the statements on the Wikipedia site that is open for the whole world to see:

    “With the opening of Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS in 2013 Pearson’s population dropped almost 200 students, but many of its teams were to advance to many and win some OFSAA titles (2015-2016). Despite the drop, the school continues in many areas and through the efforts of a staff, continues to offer extra-curricular activities.”

    “Pearson is slated to be closed effective the 2018/2019 school year as the PAR process that was just completed.” “Little study was done when a new school was built north of Highway 5, and Lester B. Pearson was only given 1.5 feeder schools. Declining enrollment due to redirection has allowed the HDSB to close the doors of this once thriving school.”

    Well as you can see the last statement summarizes the poor management decisions of the Halton District School Board (HDSB) and Trustees.

    The incredible part is the HDSB and Trustees are not ashamed or even embarrassed by their total bad management act of opening one high school with-out justification of a pupil accommodation review in September 2013 and then recommending in the fall of 2016 the closing of two other high schools.

    Now through Wikipedia we share this incredible maladministration and fiasco by our Halton District School Board and Trustees with the world.

    Pity … Burlington used to be considered one of the best places to live and raise a family … who knows where we will place now.

    • Steve Atkinson

      They are not ashamed. They are completely out of touch with the results of their decision and the people they serve. The decision was made by non-Burlington residents. It is extremely sad.

  • . Seaton

    The decision by administration was totally out of place- should have been a board decision- they are the public decision makers not some puffed up administrator, and question if the decision would have been the same had it been the liberal party leader !

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