Director of Education gets to defend his report to the trustees Wednesday evening - what kind of a witness is he going to be?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 25th, 2017



The Director of Education Stuart Miller was not able to visit with staff at Bateman high school Friday afternoon to tell Principal Mark Dudley and the rest of the staff that the school was recommended for closure in the Director’s report to the trustees.

He sent Associate Director David Boag in his place.

The Gazette has heard from several of the trustees, We now know part of the reason Miller gave advice to the chair – as Secretary to the Board Miller is obliged (his words) to advise the trustees when they have questions.
In isn’t clear just what the role of the Secretary of the Board is – advise; to counsel; to direct. It occurs to us that there is a bit of a conflict here.

Miller expects to be in front of the Board of Trustees on Wednesday to defend the recommendation he put forward. Is Miller defending a position to the people he is required to advice and counsel?

In essence Miller is testifying as a witness to the trustees on remarks he wrote in the report they are considering.

What kind of a witness is he likely to be?  That depends on the kinds of questions thw trustees ask.  Will they be real defenders of the public that elected them?

A “hostile” witness at common law is one who is “not desirous of telling the truth”. Such a witness may be cross examined to the extent that the judge sees necessary to do justice, which can include a broad area of topics such as all facts in issue, the witnesses reliability and credibility on the circumstances of the case.

Is Miller a hostile witness?

Don’t expect the Chair to take exception to anything the Director of Education has written. Expecting the Chair to take a strong hand is expecting too much. This chair, Kelly Amos, does not lead. She does not treat her Director of Education as a person that is accountable to the Board of trustees. There is a comfortable (too comfortable) working relationship between the Chair and the Director of Education.

We don’t feel the Director of Education is to be faulted – he has a large (the largest in the Region) organization to run and has to work with a provincial government that can change the rules of the game at any point in time.

The rules and procedures for the Program Accommodation Review that is taking place now is considerably different than anything school boards have had to work with in the past. There is close to unanimous agreement that the process if flawed and at some point the Ministry of Education will make the required changes. Little comfort there for the people at Bateman and Pearson.

There are a few trustees that, while still growing into their roles, may summon the courage to speak out and ask the difficult questions.

Speak now or take it in the ear at the October 2018 election.

The trustees also want to direct some of their questions to staff – the planning department has not served the citizens well, staff changes needed there.

The Superintendent of Facilities needs a job performance review.

The Director of Education is going to have to get tougher with his staff. He is new to the job – far too many people at the top decision making level are new to their jobs.

Time to hunker down and get it right this time.

It was done very very wrong when the decision was made to build Hayden. That mistake could have been lessened by a fairer approach to the boundaries that were created. What is in place now is close to the kind of gerrymandering American politicians do to create constituency boundaries that assure a political party can win.

Parents in Burlington are now angry – some at an emotional level, others have looked at the issues logically and put forward some very sound comments – they deserve a haring and answers to the concerns they raise.

Lisa Bull from Bateman has made comments that cannot be ignored or brushed off. Rory Nisan from Pearson has written a refutation on the decision to close Pearson that the trustees need to pay attention to and arrive at their own conclusions and not rely on the Secretary to the Board of Education to advise them.

And where is city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. She spoke passionately and with great confidence on her decision to accept the role as a PARC member. Why is she now close to mute?

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 comment to Director of Education gets to defend his report to the trustees Wednesday evening – what kind of a witness is he going to be?

  • LBP Alumni

    I understand there are a ton of questions to work through on the Bateman closure recommendation for trustees but I was floored not to hear any questions from them last night challenging the apparent lack of thought from staff toward alternative solutions to closing Pearson and poor monitoring that led to severe population imbalances in the north end.

    What is the Pearson community missing?? It’s seems very clear; realign the feeder schools! Doing this will restore population levels at Pearson (OTG and programs were never an issue prior to Hayden), reduce overcrowding at Hayden and boost student count at MMR.

    It appears as if it’s an easy decision to close and that no discussion is needed. Very disappointing to see elected officials, especially Trustee Papin, not ask any questions related to the recommendation to close Pearson.