A very disturbing chain of email correspondence. What did the Director of Education think he was doing and why did the Board of Education chair feel she had to get directions?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 23, 2017



We are beginning to hear from the trustees on the values they bring to their task as trustees

We have heard from Amy Collard who said


HDSB trustee Any Collard. She represents the Bateman school.

“You have requested that trustees determine a ranking for our decision-making priorities for the PAR. For me, this is a bit like asking us to determine if the mind, the heart or the soul are the most important parts of a person. All of these parts are necessary, and if one part is lacking the person does not function well. In addition, there are many other parts that may not be considered vital, but that increase a person’s quality of life.

“I will be looking for a solution that provides all of the students in Burlington with equitable access to the programming that they need to be successful in their chosen pathway, while honouring their ties to their communities and being mindful that we must be fiscally responsible.

“As you know, this is a difficult proposition. I will be listening to the students and their families, as well as reviewing all of the data that has been compiled, and trying to find a way to balance all of the perspectives. I remain hopeful that the Director will present a recommendation that trustees – and the Burlington community – will be able to support.

Donna Danielli, Milton trustee said she was “not comfortable ranking one value higher than another at this point and I will attempt to explain why.

Protest outside board office

Cold winter night outside the Board of Education offices – Central and Pearson protesters were out on the street.

“A number of years ago, there was concern amongst wine makers. There was a reviewer of wines who was well renowned and whose reviews were considered the epitome of wine reviews. Many bottles of wine were sold according to his recommendations.

“The difficulty came when the wine makers began to change their wines to reflect attributes he found favourable in wines. They stopped creating the wines they had always individually crafted and instead made wines they knew he would give a good review to.

Donna Danielli

Milton school board trustee Donna Danielli

“My concern with providing a rating system with which I will view the PAR recommendation is twofold – I am concerned that whatever aspect I give the most weight to will be the one that delegations will focus on. I won’t hear the true spirit of what I need to hear on the delegation nights but rather one tailored to meet what people may think I want to hear.

“The other concern is that there is no magical formula to share – I will be reading the report, re-reading all of my PAR materials, re-reading all of the emails and letters sent this far and listening diligently to the delegations. I feel that to try to list my values and how they will weigh my vote would be to do a disservice to those who are waiting to delegate the board.

“It is my intention to listen to every one of those delegations whole heartedly and take their feedback as part of my overall decision.”

Then the waters got muddied. A trustee appears to have asked the Director of Education how she should respond to the Gazette’s request.

Hammil + Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller at a Robotics competition briefing.

In the email trail that came our way Stuart Miller, the Director of Education said: “First I saw it was Kelly’s e-mail. I’ll try to connect today with Kelly.

“My initial thoughts are to quote the mandate of the Min of Ed – Trustees primary focus is student achievement and fiscal responsibility. But I’ll chat with Kelly.”

Halton Hills Trustee, Jeanne Gray got into the conversation with: “Kelly – thanks for connecting to Stuart on our behalf. I will not be responding to Pepper Parr’s this request at this time.”


HDSB Chair Kelly Amos.

On Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 9:19 AM, Kelly Amos Trustee Wards 5 & 6 <amosk@hdsb.ca> wrote:
“I am sure we all received this email. As the PAR process is not over until the vote, I believe we should exercise caution about responding to this email. I speak to Stuart about this will try craft something to respond to this on behalf of all trustees.”

This all started when the Gazette wrote each trustee:

“A number of months ago the Gazette asked each of you to rank the values that are a part of the decision making process for you.

Chair Amos told us that the trustees were not going to involve themselves in the PARC process and, with one exception, there were no responses.

The PARC process has ended and that committee no longer meets.”

The Gazette didn’t feel that that asking the trustees to rank the three values was involving yourselves in the PARC process – but that is moot at this point.

The public has a right to know something about the values that drive a trustee.

Would you rank the following:

Fiscal prudence
Community – by which we mean the role a high school plays in a community
Academic offering

Please rank these three – you may have other values – add those as addendum if you wish.

Leah Reynolds, Burlington trustee for Wards 1 and 2 said:

Leah Reynolds

Burlington Wards 1 and 2 school board trustee Leah Reynolds.

The driving force behind entering public office is my passion for education as evidenced by my long-serving school volunteerism through reading club, breakfast club, chairing school councils, participating in community discussion of elementary school closing and helping lead numerous school capital fundraising enhancements and initiatives. These experiences equipped me with the skills to navigate the school board and I realized that I could be helpful to parents and community.

I also understood that there were population challenges and should a Program Accommodation Review (PAR) be held, I wanted to be a part of the conversation because schools are the heart of the community.

Reynolds pointed out that “this is a full time job, serving parents and families days, evenings and often weekends, one that trustees gladly take on in service to students and their education.”

Trustees attend far more meetings than city Councillors do.

Reynolds said her “top priority and philosophy is focused squarely on what is in the best interests of students.” She did make clear that “schools are the heart of the community”.

Her decision matrix, said Reynolds will consider more than the three factors the Gazette set out. Her considerations include the 13 factors identified by the PAR policy which are:

I. Range of mandatory program
2. Range of optional program
3. Viability of Program – number of students required to offer and maintain program in an educationally sound and fiscally responsible way
4. Physical and environmental state of existing schools
5 Proximity to other schools (non-bus distances, natural boundaries, walking routes)
6 Accommodation of students in permanent school facilities and minimal use of portable classrooms
7. Balance of overall enrollment in each school in the area to maximize student access to programs, resources and extra-curricular opportunities and avoid over and underutilization of buildings.
8. Expansion and placement of new ministry or board programs.
9. Stable, long-term boundaries to avoid frequent boundary changes
10 Cost effectiveness of transportation
11 Fiscal responsibilities
12 Existing and potential community uses and facility partnerships
13. Goals and focus of the current multi-year plan

“There may be additional factors that bubble up as a result of the PAR committee’s discussions. But the lens through which all these factors will be viewed is what is best for students at our schools.”

Every person added Reynolds “has an opportunity right now to make their voice heard to help shape the options that emerge for trustee consideration in the spring.”

What parents expect is an open look at a significant issue. The public want and need to be aware of what the trustees think – not what someone who is accountable to them thinks they should be saying.


Director of Education Stuart Miller during a web cast Q&A

It is not appropriate for the Director of Education to direct the thinking of the trustees nor is it appropriate for the Chair to say she will “will try craft something to respond to this on behalf of all trustees.”

Has the Director of Education given the trustees what they need to be able to vote? Looks that way.

This is a very disturbing chain of email correspondence. The public has a right to know why their elected trustees would behave like this. One might ask also ask the Director of Education what he thought he was doing.

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3 comments to A very disturbing chain of email correspondence. What did the Director of Education think he was doing and why did the Board of Education chair feel she had to get directions?

  • Sharon

    I am disturbed by this news! All I hope is the ones that did not respond can think for themselves. And remember how they got to be Trustees. An election is coming up.

  • Deb

    And just an FYI…it is very easy to submit an online complaint with the Ontario Ombudsman. Our kids and communities deserve a fair process which they are not getting.

  • Deb

    Wow! This is troubling to say the least. As I see it, the decision has already been made and they will respond as a group. At least they have proven to us what we already figured. Shameful!