Statement from Minister Hunter on Appointment of York Region District School Board Reviewers
Today, Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, issued the following statement:
"There have been significant and growing concerns from parents and community members regarding governance and equity issues in the York Region District School Board (YRDSB). These include allegations of systemic racism, concerns about the board's equity and inclusive education policies, accountability for spending on trustees' international travel, and deteriorating relationships between the trustees, the director of education and the board's senior staff.
In November, I met with the board chair and director of education to discuss these concerns. During that meeting, I was not provided with the reassurance that the board had an adequate plan in place to deal with these issues, so I asked the board to submit a report outlining their plan of action by January 13. Unfortunately, their proposal also fails to address these issues.
As a result, an urgent review of the board is needed. I am appointing Patrick Case and Sue Herbert to review the governance and performance issues at the YRDSB. The reviewers will recommend improvements, particularly regarding equity, accountability and transparency, to regain public confidence in the school board. In addition, they will recommend ways to improve the working relationships at the board, including amongst trustees, between the board and the director of education, between the director of education and senior staff, and with the community. In addition, they will review whether board members and the director of education are fulfilling their legislated duties.
The reviewers will submit a final report with recommendations for next steps to me by April 7, 2017.
My colleagues and I want all students, parents, staff and community members to have confidence in our publicly funded education system, and to ensure transparent and accountable school board governance that nurtures and respects inclusive and equitable education. I am committed to supporting strong governance at the York Region District School Board - it is essential to the success and well-being of students in Ontario's schools."
Patrick Case, LL.B. LL.M., is an assistant professor in the department of political science at the University of Guelph, and he is the current chair of the board of Ontario's Human Rights Legal Support Centre. He is an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the director of the Osgoode Hall Law School Certificate Program in Human Rights Theory and Practice. Case is also a member of the board of Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that helps educators worldwide link the past to moral choices today.
From 1979 to 1985, Case was a school trustee with the former Toronto Board of Education, and from 1989 to 1999 he was an equity advisor with the same board. From 1999 to 2009, Case was the director of the Human Rights and Equity Office of the University of Guelph. From 2006 to 2010, he held an appointment as a commissioner at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He has been a trade unionist, a school trustee and a practitioner whose chief focus was serving women who were victims of male violence. Case has served as a staff lawyer in the family law division at Parkdale Community Legal Services. He is a past chair of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, which was created as a part of the federal government's redress agreement with Japanese Canadians and has been a co-chair of the equality rights panel of the Court Challenges Program of Canada.
He was a member of the Minister's TDSB Governance Advisory Panel in 2015.
Suzanne B. Herbert
Sue has had a long career in public service, and was a deputy minister in the Ontario Government from 1997 to 2008, retiring after serving as deputy minister of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, the Ministry of Education, where she represented Canada for several years at the OECD Education Directorate, and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Prior to becoming a deputy minister she was the CEO of the Ontario Housing Corporation and held assistant deputy minister positions.
Since retiring Sue has undertaken a number of assignments. In 2016, she provided strategic advice to three ministries on the adult education system in Ontario. In 2014/15, she was asked to review the funding model for Ontario's universities which resulted in the public report "University Funding Model Reform: Focus on Outcomes, Center on Students". In 2013/14, she led the negotiations of strategic mandate agreements with Ontario's 24 community colleges on behalf of the Ontario government. In addition to this extensive experience with government, she has accepted several project assignments such as assisting a children's mental health agency looking at its strategic direction and serving in Inuvik with the World Wildlife Federation looking at marine spatial planning in the Beaufort Sea.
Sue and her husband Ken also volunteer with a number of nonprofit organizations.