OCDSB Update on Code of Conduct Investigation

OCDSB Update on Code of Conduct Investigation
Posted on 05/15/2020

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in our community. Every person has the right to be free from racial discrimination and harassment. When allegations are made that an individual has not been treated in accordance with these principles, it is essential that they be taken seriously and addressed in accordance with both the law and the policies of the organization.

The OCDSB is currently conducting a formal investigation into a complaint regarding an alleged incident between Trustee Donna Blackburn and a young person in March 2020.

The Board Member Code of Conduct sets the standard of behavioural expectations for trustees of the OCDSB. A formal complaint under the Code of Conduct is being investigated by an independent third party who will provide a report to the board. The process is confidential while underway, but once the investigation is concluded, the Board of Trustees will consider a public report on the matter, and a decision will be rendered at a public meeting of the Board in June.

Trustee Blackburn has recently released a statement to media on the incident in question. The family of the young person has discussed the situation publicly. To protect the integrity of the process, trustees and employees of the school district are not in a position to comment on the particulars of this matter while the investigation is underway.

Independent of the Board Member Code of Conduct process, this incident has surfaced concerns in the community that require attention. The OCDSB Human Rights and Equity Advisory (HREA) plays an important advisory role in the organization. The HREA will work with the community to better understand these issues and work with the leadership of the Board, both administrative and political, to effect changes to our policies and practices.



The Board’s authority as established in the Education Act, is outlined in the Board Member Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct sets the standard of behavioral expectations for trustees of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. It includes a process for complaints; investigations; the decision making process to determine if there was a breach of the Code; and a list of possible sanctions.

Every investigation must be undertaken within the principles of procedural fairness. Procedural fairness ensures that no party to the investigation is unfairly affected, and is essential to the integrity of the process and the outcome. The key steps to ensuring procedural fairness include determining the authority for and nature of an investigation; identifying who will conduct the investigation; conducting interviews; documenting findings; considering evidence and making a decision, within the scope of authority.

If the Board determines there has been a breach of the Code of Conduct, the Board can censure a member, bar the member from attending a meeting, and/or bar the member from sitting on committees of the Board. There is no legislative authority for the Board to remove a trustee from elected office.

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