Special LBPSB committee formed to study internal issues


Lester B. Pearson School Board Commissioners were criticized  Monday for leaving a public meeting to secretly form a committee to investigate ethical failings within the board.

Five minutes into a public meeting Monday, the board’s council of commissioners left the room to form the committee behind closed doors.

This in the wake of the last council of commissioners meeting during which the majority of council voted to fire an unnamed senior administrator and LBPSB ethics and governance committee chair Martin Sherman read a ruling which stated that the unnamed commissioner had violated three articles of the board’s code of ethics on three occasions, this year. 

LBPSB secretary general Geneviève Dugré told the Montreal Gazette last week that “due to ongoing judicial proceedings, we cannot provide you with a copy of the requested (ethics) report” but would not say what the nature of the judicial proceedings are.

“I’m confused as to what we’re doing here,” Pearson Teachers Union president Heidi Yetman said as she waited for the commissioners to return to the conference room, Monday.

A handful of citizens had shown up for the meeting.

“I’m disappointed. I came to hear about the new committee. It’s supposed to be a public meeting. It’s public education. And, suddenly, it’s not public anymore,” Yetman said.

Allison Provost, president of the Independent Association of Support Staff (IASS), was also in attendance and unhappy with the closed-door formation of the committee.

“It shakes my confidence,” Provost said. “I thought (the school board) was going in the right direction. They’d brought in a new director general. It’s a public institution. I know there were three counts of ethical misconduct, but the person is still sitting on council. The public doesn’t know what’s going on.”

After council returned, the date for the first meeting of the special committee was set for Nov. 12 at 9 a.m.

Board chair Suanne Stein Day spoke with reporters after the meeting, saying a special committee was formed because the council doesn’t have enough time to deal with all the issues.

She said the committee would focus on commissioner stipends, representation on external committees and a review of the board’s current code of ethics. The committee will make recommendations at the next public council of commissioners meeting, Nov. 28.

On the subject of so much secrecy swirling around the ethics report Day said, “the ethics commissioner ordered the report be kept strictly confidential. The secrecy is required to protect the many players involved.”