Halton trustee censured for violating code of conduct
BURLINGTON — A Halton Catholic District School Board trustee who has been disciplined for her behaviour says she wishes she could explain what happened, but is bound by confidentiality rules.
Trustees determined Burlington representative Jane Michael (Ward 3 and Ward 6) breached the board’s code of conduct at a private meeting on May 8.
At the board’s public meeting on May 15, vice-chair Paul Marai read a motion announcing the sanction and stating the penalty: Michael is barred from attending two board meetings, removed from her position on the discipline committee and excluded from the search for a new director of education “from the beginning to the end of the hiring process.” The board’s director of education, Paula Dawson, announced her retirement earlier this year. Her retirement date is set for Aug. 31. The discipline committee handles high-level student issues such as expulsions.
Trustees declined to explain the nature of Michael’s offence, citing Ontario Education Act provisions that govern private meetings. Those state that trustees may discuss the following topics in private: the security of board property; the disclosure of intimate, personal or financial information; the acquisition or disposal of a school site; negotiations with employees; and litigation. Michael has accepted the censure. She declined to comment when asked if she thought it was fair.
“I would love to share, but I can’t share a thing,” she said Wednesday.
The reprimand may not seem like much, said fellow trustee Anthony Quinn, but it’s the strongest sanction available to the board under the legislation.
“Our board has not had to censure a trustee in the memory of current trustees,” he wrote in an email. “I am personally vexed and disappointed to have to go through this process. But it is important to do it, so as to show our stakeholders that we take breaches in our code of conduct seriously.”
During the May 15 meeting, Quinn attempted to amend the censure motion so Michael would effectively be barred from an additional board meeting. Chair Diane Rabenda did not allow Quinn’s motion, saying the proper procedure was simply to publicly confirm what had happened in the private meeting.
“You want her to be away June 19 … I know exactly what’s happening,” charged Rabenda, in one of many heated exchanges between trustees during the meeting.
June 19 is when the board’s final 2018-19 budget will be approved.