Some detail on the school closing Administrative Review are becoming clearer.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 8th, 2017



There isn’t going to be just the one Administrative Review – there will be separate reviews for each of the two high schools that took exception to the Board of Education to close them.

A response from the Ministry said they have “approved two separate requests for administrative reviews of the Halton DSB’s Burlington Secondary Program and Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR) involving Robert Bateman High School and Lester B. Pearson High School.

“The ministry reviewed the requests and determined that both met the criteria for the appointment of a facilitator to undertake an administrative review.

Protest outside board office

Pearson was at risk from the very beginning.

They further advised that the “selection process for the facilitator to lead this review is underway and the successful candidate will be appointed as soon as possible. Once appointed, the ministry informs the lead petitioner and the board.

“The facilitator will be focused on reviewing the board’s accommodation review process and its consistency with the board’s accommodation review policy. Upon selection, it will be up to the facilitator to determine the overall course and structure of the review.

Timelines will depend on the circumstances in each review and the findings of the reviewers.

PAR HDSB Parents at Bateman

Bateman high school had a very tough time overcoming the time they lost during the early stages of the PAR –  Program Accommodation Review. They had a strong story – it just wasn’t being told.

Sources within the Board of Education said that their role is to comply with the direction from the facilitator and that from past experience that person is usually wither a former Director of Education or a lawyer with experience in administrative law.

There are no public hearings – the facilitator will meet with the parent group from each school and the appropriate people at the Board level.

The facilitator chosen has a considerable amount of leeway in deciding how to proceed.
We are told that these reviews “tend to be paper heavy.

The report prepared usually has two parts: A recommendation as to what if any action should be taken and some commentary on what the facilitator believes actually happened.

One of the concerns coming out of the Board of Education is that the Ministry of Education may be dealing with bigger issues and that the Halton matter might get tangled up in those political machinations.

McMahon - First public as Minister

Few parents feel the Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon did all that much to advance their cause – something that might be regretted come next June.

The Ministry has put a pause on any future PAR’s until there is an internal review of that process which is seen as “fundamentally flawed”. The pause was put in place 22 days after the Halton decision was made.

The timing of the Administrative Reviews could become a concern with a provincial election due in June.

The last Administrative Review hat Halton had to deal with was referred to as a “truncated” event which took just the months.

The Burlington situation is not going to get resolved in two months – six to eight is seen as the more likely time frame which gets perilously close to the election date.

The Ministry might choose to let the election take place and then deliver whatever there is going to be in the way of a recommendation.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the hearings into the gas plant cancellations at Queen's Park in Toronto on December 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the hearings into the gas plant cancellations at Queen’s Park in Toronto on December 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

There are parents that like that idea – hoping they will be able to impact the provincial election in June to change the provincial member for Burlington – which is a very wild stretch of imagination – except that the Premier is in the middle of two rather messy criminal trials that have the potential to change the way the wind blows.

There are parents who believe that if a decision can be put off until the municipal election in October of 2018 they can elect different trustees who could theoretically reverse the decision.

There are people who have already decided to contest several of the Board of Trustee seats.

Sticky wickets indeed.

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6 comments to Some detail on the school closing Administrative Review are becoming clearer.

  • Tom Muir

    In this comment Tom Muir is referring to a comment made by Stu Parr (no relation to the Publisher of the Gazette)

    The granting of the AR is based on the Ministry opinion that there is evidence that the policy was not followed adequately, and that the citizen’s complaint and appeal has merit.

    The citizens had to provided almost a 50% parent support petition, in a limited time.

    This had to be submitted together with evidence and argument of inadequacy in policy delivery. Then the Board submitted their argument in rebuttal of the citizen’s appeal,

    After review of all this, the ministry ruled in favor of the citizens and granted the appeal.

    An AR and facilitator are not a slam dunk easy shot. They didn’t get it for nothing.

    Likewise, I don’t think predicting the result of the appeal process is an easy slam dunk either.

    I think that anyone saying what you just said needs to get up to speed on the evidence presented during the PAR. Base an opinion on that, give us an argument, not just make assertions based on nothing.

    Whatever you may or may not do, upholding and allowing citizen legal and administrative rights to appeal public decisions and processes is a foundation of our laws and Bill of Rights.

    If nothing else, the AR process will serve the purpose of seeing that these rights are respected, win or lose. This is never a waste of time.

    What would you do – hang ’em high? As fast as possible?

    Some in this discussion would do just that.

    • Stu Parr

      Mr. Muir:

      You’re correct – exercises in democratic process and freedom of expression are never pointless. That was poorly and inaccurately stated on my part. My belief is that the PAR process, as dictated by the Province, is indeed flawed and very poorly conceived. It served neither the community nor the students. However, administrative and judicial reviews are both quite limited vehicles. They restrict themselves to assessing whether the process, even if imperfect, was properly followed. They do not generally pass judgement on the conclusions of the process. My fear is that the decision to close two schools in Burlington will, in the final analysis, stand – a very sad and inappropriate result.

  • Stu Parr

    It’s entirely likely that the Administrative Review, which just assesses whether the process as dictated was followed, will conclude that the PAR was indeed followed correctly and its results will stand. Ultimately a waste of time and effort.

  • Lonely Taxpayer

    Really ? The government is paying reviewers to review the review?

    Eight months from now we’ll have one of three results: 1) the review was right. 2) the review was wrong. And/or 3) the review needs more study.

    Either result will create more bureaucracy to eat up savings resulted from the school closures.

  • Tim

    Eleanor was missing in action and this will be tipping point action for parents from the Bateman and Pearson in the 2018 election – Eleanor could be with our work – time will tell

  • Colleen A

    The facilitator & the Liberal party also need to understand that they are going to face a lot of voter anger regardless of what the decision is. There are voters in this city that want this resolved well before the end of this school year. They would be well advised to come to a decision before the election so that this debacle will finally be laid to rest and this city can finally begin to heal.

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