Canada Toronto school board trustee takes leave after report she maligned staff

07:40  05 february  2018
07:40  05 february  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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One of the longest serving trustees with the Toronto District School Board is taking a leave of absence after two reports by the board ’s integrity commissioner found she maligned staff . In one case, east-end trustee Sheila

Toronto school board trustee takes leave after report she maligned staff . “Last November, I made a comment that I deeply regret, using a term that I recognize was inappropriate and unacceptable, ”Sheila Cary-Meagher wrote in a letter of apology.


In her apology to board chair Robin Pilkey, Sheila Cary-Meagher said, © Richard Lautens In her apology to board chair Robin Pilkey, Sheila Cary-Meagher said, "I made a comment that I deeply regret, using a term that I recognize was inappropriate and unacceptable.”

One of the longest serving trustees with the Toronto District School Board is taking a leave of absence after two reports by the board's integrity commissioner found she maligned staff.

In one case, east-end trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher referred to a female employee she “hated” as a “dyke” and a “b..ch” in casual chatter before a November meeting about a student expulsion.

In the second case, Cary-Meagher told parents that the board's communications staff “failed miserably” and “dropped the ball” regarding information on a September police investigation near the Duke of Connaught Junior and Middle School in Leslieville.

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A Toronto District School Board trustee is taking a self-imposed leave of absence after the board 's integrity commissioner found she used "discriminatory and derogatory" language that maligned staff . In two reports that are part of agenda documents for the board 's Wednesday meeting

On Friday, after integrity commissioner Suzanne Craig filed her reports and recommendations, Cary-Meagher announced her leave of absence through a letter posted online.

In her “Letter of Apology,” addressed to board chair Robin Pilkey, Cary-Meagher wrote, “Last November, I made a comment that I deeply regret, using a term that I recognize was inappropriate and unacceptable.”

“I accept full responsibility for that and apologize unreservedly to the people I offended, the students and staff of the TDSB, to residents of Toronto who I have been privileged to serve and to the LGBTQ community in particular.”

The Star requested an interview with Cary-Meagher. She responded by text message, saying she will “abide by the Integrity Commissioner's recommendations.”

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Toronto school board trustee takes leave after report she maligned staff https Loading seems to be taking a while. Twitter may be over capacity or experiencing a momentary hiccup. Try again or visit Twitter Status for more information.

A Toronto District School Board trustee is taking a self-imposed leave of absence after the board 's integrity commissioner found she used "discriminatory and derogatory" language that maligned staff . In two reports that are part of agenda documents for the board 's Wednesday meeting.

Both reports — with recommendations for written apologies to each complainant — are on the agenda for the board's Wednesday night council meeting. The board must first accept the recommendations before any action is taken.

Pilkey, the chair, said the findings show the board's new code of conduct, created to eliminate long-standing complaints about a culture of fear, is working to protect employees.

“This is a sign that we have taken steps to get past that . . . toxic culture,” Pilkey said on Sunday.

Cary-Meagher's letter of apology did not mention the complaint related to the communications staff.

In that case, the integrity commissioner found that Cary-Meagher “did not intend to malign” staff but she did “cast aspersions” on their professional reputations during an Oct. 19 meeting with 100 parents — without first asking staff how they communicated with parents and what details police said must be withheld. Police were invited to the public meeting but the communications staff was not.

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Toronto trustees saved music instructors but slashed school budgets as they debated the 2013-14 board budget late into the night. “The problem is, you don’t have the materials to start up classrooms or to do new initiatives,” he said after briefly leaving the meeting to speak with reporters.

Parents were angry over what a lack of information related to an unspecified threat at the school, resulting in a two-day “hold and secure” that kept students inside. The commissioner's report said police officers withheld information from communications staff and also requested certain details not be released during an active investigation.

The report said, “I am convinced that (Cary-Meagher) is a well-intentioned honest person, and a Trustee who is committed to serving her community . . . However, she is also very opinionated and anxious to express her personal opinions about her dissatisfaction with staff's work performance in a very public way. A trustee's role is not to insert him or herself into the performance evaluation of staff's duties.”

Craig concluded that, “Publicly criticizing members of staff in a way that casts aspersions on their professional competence and credibility is tantamount to workplace intimidation.”

In an interview, Craig said the board has done a lot of work around human rights and harassment issues under the new code of conduct. This includes a recommendation that trustees understand their obligation to respect the staff, she said.

“My hope is that the board will strongly condemn this type of behaviour. . . ,” she said.

"My hope is that the courage these complainants have shown demonstrates that there is some measure of faith in the process and some measure of belief that the change that has taken place in the last couple of years . . . is actually something the board lives by, and doesn't just write about."

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