Minister of Education to Review Systemic Homophobia & Trustee Dysfunction at the TCDSB

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To the Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education:

Whereas at the November 7, 2019 meeting of the Student Achievement and Well Being, Catholic Education & HR Committee [“Committee Meeting”] of the Toronto Catholic District School Board [hereinafter “TCDSB”], all trustees were in attendance at the relevant parts of this meeting except for a student trustee;

Whereas in the months leading up to the Committee Meeting, the TCDSB was debating whether to comply with PPM 128 which required the TCDSB to add the human rights terms “family status, gender expression, gender identity, and family status” as protected terms [hereinafter “Terms”] in the TCDSB’s Code of Conduct;

Whereas the debates regarding the addition of the Terms focused on LGBTQ students and families in the TCDSB with emphasis on same-sex families and on transgender persons, as reflected in this August 25, 2019 Globe and Mail article and this October 28, 2019 Toronto Star article;

Whereas the Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in a letter to the TCDSB dated September 17, 2019, stated that adding the Terms was necessary for the TCDSB to comply with the Education Act and the Human Rights Code;

Whereas at the Committee Meeting, Trustee Del Grande brought a detailed 4-part, 12-page motion amendment [hereinafter “Motion Amendment”], seconded by Trustee Nancy Crawford, seeking that, among other terms, bestiality and pedophilia be protected terms in the TCDSB’s Code of Conduct;

Whereas Trustee Del Grande argued his Motion Amendment from 5:39:15 to 5:51:00 in the Meeting Video where specifically (from 5:40:15 to 5:40:23 in the Meeting Video) he stated that his intended purpose was to argue that the adoption of the Terms as protected classes in the TCDSB’s Code of Conduct was a “slippery slope” to the adoption of bestiality, pedophilia and others terms as protected classes in TCDSB policies [hereinafter “Comparison”];

Whereas the TCDSB adopted the Terms in its Code of Conduct in a vote immediately following the Motion Amendment;

Whereas you as Minister of Education, as reported in this November 25, 2019 Toronto Star article, stated: “I find the comments made by the trustee to be quite unacceptable and quite disturbing, actually;”

Whereas many complaints were made to the TCDSB pursuant to the Trustee Code of Conduct policy against Trustee Del Grande for the Motion Amendment and the Comparison;

Whereas the issue of trustee dysfunction in responding to Trustee Code of Conduct complaints was identified as an issue within a month of the Motion Amendment, as reported in this December 11, 2019 Toronto Star article;

Whereas the TCDSB hired Michelle Bird of the firm Rubin Thomlinson LLP as an investigator, whom Rubin Thomlinson describes as a “perceptive and highly experienced workplace investigator, often called on for her ability to take overwhelming or complex information and distill it into clear, concise communications for her clients;”

Whereas any highly experienced workplace investigator using a reasonable person standard would conclude, as Michelle Bird would have concluded, that the Comparison is inappropriate in any publicly-funded school board, including a publicly-funded Catholic school board;

Whereas Trustee Di Giorgio, at the August 14, 2020 TCDSB board meeting, raised an inquiry (a formal question to staff) for senior management to report on trustee dysfunction in response to Trustee Code of Conduct complaints including whether intervention should be sought from the Ministry of Education due to trustee dysfunction;

Whereas Trustee Kennedy, the Vice-Chair of the TCDSB, at the August 14, 2020 TCDSB board meeting (see from 8:22:55 - 8:23:00) in the inquiry discussion about trustee dysfunction in response to Trustee Code of Conduct complaints, expressed concern about the vote in favour of a staff inquiry, stating, “I don’t want to be taken over by the Ministry;”

Whereas at the August 20, 2020 TCDSB board meeting, in a vote of 7-4, the TCDSB board officially voted to dismiss all complaints against Trustee Del Grande for the Motion Amendment and the Comparison, without making public the names of the complainants and the investigation report (or any similar document), which meant that some trustees voted consistently with and others voted against the findings of any investigator(s);

Whereas the TCDSB has never officially apologized to its LGBTQ students and families specifically for the Comparison;

Whereas the TCDSB has experienced a high level of systemic homophobia in comparison to other school boards in Ontario including in comparison to other Catholic school board in Ontario, and the issues raised above are only some of the many examples of this high level of systemic homophobia in the TCDSB; and

Whereas you as Minister of Education in late 2019, as reported in this November 26, 2019 Toronto Star article, appointed a team of reviewers to review the high level of systemic anti-Black racism and trustee dysfunction at the Peel District School Board, which ultimately is having a significant positive impact in that school board’s improvement in addressing systemic anti-Black racism and trustee dysfunction; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that the Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, appoint a reviewer or a team of reviewers to review the high level of systemic homophobia and trustee dysfunction at the Toronto Catholic District School Board so that the reviewer or team of reviewers may make recommendations to the Minister of Education and/or the Toronto Catholic District School Board to address the systemic homophobia and trustee dysfunction, for the purpose of reducing their negative impact on student learning at the Toronto Catholic District School Board.