OCDSB Responds to Concerns About Board Discord

OCDSB Responds to Concerns About Board Discord
Posted on 09/13/2023
OCDSB Responds to Concerns About Board Discord

On Monday, September 11th, 2023, the OCDSB held a Special Board Meeting to consider a complaint  made under  the Code of Conduct. After deliberation, the motion was defeated. 

There has been considerable social media and media coverage about the meeting, events leading up to the meeting, and events occurring after the meeting. As part of our commitment to be both accountable and responsive to the community, and to ensure our commitment to student learning and well-being, the OCDSB would like to address some of these issues.

The Code of Conduct is intended to establish guidelines for civil behaviour amongst trustees. This was the first formal complaint that this Board has considered under the Code of Conduct. Without question, the process has been divisive and difficult for the complainant, respondent, and the Board as a whole. The Board of Trustees acknowledges that there has been discord amongst trustees and is working to address these issues. Even prior to the meeting, trustees had discussed and acknowledged the need to work on issues of trust and relationship building as part of its Board Work Plan.

Although this issue has been difficult, it should not overshadow the fact that this Board - in its almost one year in office - has been united in many important decisions, including:

  • Standing United Against Hate - both individually and collectively, trustees have been united in their commitment to Indigenous rights and human rights and in their opposition to and advocacy against anti-Black racism, antisemitism, transphobia and other forms of oppression and/or hate. 
  • Adoption of a New Code of Conduct - the Board approved a new Code of Conduct policy, as well as the appointment of an Integrity Advisor. This is an important step forward in having an independent third party professional assist the Board in addressing standards of behaviour for the Board.
  • Adoption of a New Strategic Plan - from the start of the term of the office, the Board of Trustees was actively engaged in the development of a new strategic plan. In June 2023, after extensive community consultation, the Board approved a new four-year strategic plan focused on three priorities - learning, well-being, and social responsibility.
  • Adoption of a Balanced Budget - in the face of considerable financial pressure and budget constraints, the Board was able to approve a $1.1B budget which included $19M in savings.
  • Recruitment of a New Director - the Board undertook a comprehensive national search for a new Director of Education and was very pleased to appoint renowned educator and experienced Director, Dr. Pino Buffone, to lead the organization effective August 1, 2023.

Following the meeting on Monday, the Board has reached out to its Integrity Commissioner to develop strategies to support improved Board governance.  The Board is retaining an independent third party professional conflict resolution specialist to assist with mediation and building a culture of trust and respect.  The District will continue its commitment to ensuring the safety and security of participants in meetings which may include security services.

In the next month, the Board is scheduled to approve its annual work plan which includes both professional learning sessions, as well as a schedule of key policies and decisions that the Board will consider as part of its focus on student learning, well-being, and social responsibility.

The Board recognizes its responsibility to focus its efforts on student learning and well-being.  

We reaffirm our commitment to our mission: “To build a learning community that provides students with equitable opportunities to reach their potential and develop into respectful, creative, and knowledgeable community members who contribute to society.”

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