Director of Education has been through the Administrative Review process before.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 17th, 2017



With parents from both Lester B. Pearson and Bateman high school having filed requests for an Administrative Review of the Halton District School board decision to close their schools it becomes a bit of a waiting game.

The parent groups sent their documents to the Ministry of Education who then send a copy of that document to the Board of education and ask for a response.

Eric who PARC

Steve Armstrong, Pearson parent

The Board has 30 days to prepare their response. The school board  have various staff members working on different parts of the document which they will compile, edit and send to the Ministry of Education.

Once the complaint and the response are filed the Ministry has to decide to either appoint an Administrative Review facilitator/reviewer or they can choose to reject the AR and not appoint an independent reviewer.

The Board does not expect to make any comment until the Ministry makes a statement.

Stuart Miller, the Halton District School Board Director of Education has been through this process before.

When he was still a principal of an Oakville school there was an Accommodation Review of elementary schools in the area that was appealed to the Ministry.

The facilitator of that Review found that the Board had violated their own policy, (it was a different policy at that time) and ordered that the review had to be re-done.

Shortly after that decision Miller was promoted to Superintendent. He and the Director of Education at the time filed a new review process which the Ministry accepted.

Stuart Miller

Halton Board of Education Director of Education Stuart Miller.

Miller led the second review, under the new policy. The Board adhered to the new policy they had created and in the fullness of time three elementary schools were closed.

Miller said that at the time the policy problem was that the Board had not provided any options for the community to consider.

When the Accommodation Review of the Burlington high school situation took place in June, the Board had put 19 different options on the table. In the Oakville situation the community wanted to develop the options.

In Burlington the trustees had input from the Program Accommodation Review Committee and the 19 options to choose from.

There were 50 + delegations and the result of seven PARC meetings for the trustees to work with – they chose to go with the revised recommendation from the Director of Education.

While the PAR that was used in Burlington was new and there were certainly problems with that process – the decision was still made by the trustees to close two of the seven high schools in the city.

The province may well review the process.

The citizens may well review just who they want to represent them as trustees. They have an opportunity to do that in October of 2018.

The Board is proceeding with the expectation that the Ministry will not call for a formal review. The bulk of the work that has to be done to close the two schools will commence early in the next school year.

While the schools will not have students in them in the 2019 school year for Pearson and 2020 for Bateman the buildings will not be sold until the trustees decide that they are surplus to the Board’s needs. At that time the property can be sold but don’t expect to see the buildings sold to a developer faster than you can say Jack Rabbit.

There is a very strict process as to who the property has to be offered to – private interests are pretty close to the bottom of that list.

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4 comments to Director of Education has been through the Administrative Review process before.

  • Sharon

    The PAR had many flaws.
    But to name 3 main ones:
    Special Education was not discussed. SEAC was denied a seat to sit on the PARC. But FI was more important.

    Dr. Frank Haydon is still over capacity. By the way, we already have heard parents say that since FI is being moved to MMR their children will demit from FI. Their reasoning they can walk to Haydon.

    Community Partnerships were not investigated. There were many suggested to Miller and nothing was done about.

  • Stephen White

    An interesting line of argument Jeremy…although I’m not sure I would agree.

    First, if, as some writers such as Tom Muir have alluded, Hayden High School was originally constructed based upon false or misleading information, that is a serious issue and deserving of investigation. If public officials were given flawed or inaccurate information, and if, as several have suggested, there are legitimate reasons to argue that Hayden should never have been built in the first place, that is a serious issue.

    Second, if, as some have suggested, at least one of the PARC members (i.e. Marianne Meed-Ward) had a conflict of interest, that is deserving of investigation. Municipal politicians are bound by conflict-of-interest legislation, and if Ms. Meed-Ward had family members attending one of the high schools at the time that was slated for potential closure while she was on the PARC Review Committee she should have recused herself and declared a potential conflict.

    Third, having previously read Steve Armstrong’s brief on the Pearson closure published earlier in the Gazette, I certainly found it compelling. There were enough concerns, issues and problems cited that should give any independent reviewer cause for concern. Ditto the Bateman closure.

    In any democratic decision-making process there are always winners and losers, and in any consultative forum one expects there will be compromises and accommodations. However, what clearly emerged in Burlington were a significant number of procedural, consultative, communication and process failures. The PARC process was a fiasco and a miserable example of a flawed and failed process from the outset. The Ministry of Education should indeed appoint a a facilitator to review, and the sooner the better.

    • William

      No question, the decision to build Hayden directly leads to closing Pearson and Bateman. However, that decision has nothing to do with an Administrative review that’s scoped only to determine if the PAR process violated board policies.

      Similarly, the municipal conflict of interest rules has nothing to do with HDSB policies.

      Never mind that municipal conflict of interest rules only govern situations where a council member is making a decision on an issue where they have direct or indirect pecuniary interests. Participating in a PAR does not apply here.

      Further, having a child attending the school is a REQUIREMENT for PARC membership, not a conflict as incorrectly asserted.

      There are problems with the PAR process – most of them because of how the province has prescribed the process. Incorrect statements such as above only distract from dealing with the germane issues.

  • Jeremy Skinner

    Based on my review of the Administration Review process, I am challenged to find sufficient fault in how the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) process was followed by HDSB staff, led by Director Stuart Miller, and the citizens who comprised the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) to justify the Ontario Ministry of Education to repeal some or all of the decisions made by the HDSB Board to close Robert Bateman and Lester B Pearson Secondary Schools.

    Please note, that my comments do not imply that I necessarily agree with the decisions made, but rather that I am satisfied that the PAR process as followed, was fair and that the public was given multiple opportunities to make suggestions and/or express their concerns to the PARC as to how best to support the needs of our students.

    I believe that the fate of these two Secondary Schools was sealed based on three factors: 1) the recognition that Burlington’s current and anticipated future student demographics no longer justify their existence; 2) the Board’s decision to establish a target student utilization rate of 90% per school; and 3) Board decisions made over the past five annual Long Term Accommodation Plan (LTAP) reviews where HDSB staff sought Board approval as to how best to associate Primary School student graduation to Secondary School catchment areas.

    Were mistakes made or could things have been done better? Yes with the benefit of hindsight. However, I believe that we must acknowledge that the PAR process was time-boxed to eight months out of necessity and that significant accommodations were made to provide additional time for two additional PARC meetings, an additional night for citizen deputations and an additional night for Board decision deliberations.

    I suggest that our efforts going forward would be better spent focusing on three objectives: 1) the need to ensure that the transition of our students and their desired programming from Lester B Pearson and Robert Bateman Secondary Schools are made to be as frictionless as possible; 2) ensuring that Secondary School catchment areas are appropriately configured, including those associated with Dr. Frank Hayden Secondary School; and 3) to explore with the City of Burlington Planning Department as to what can be done to quickly enable new to Burlington families with children to find suitable accommodations (Examples may include but limited to rezoning major and minor arterial road streetscapes and/or mobility hubs to include the integration of multiple bedroom condominiums and townhomes).

    Please note that we have less than five years to find sufficient student population to justify the continued operation of Aldershot Secondary School.

    I believe that no one who participated in the PAR process wanted to see these schools closed. However, I believe that we all gave it our best efforts to explore as many concerns and options as possible within the time allotted. Ultimately the costs and impact of student programming to keep these schools open could no longer be justified.

    Thank you to all who participated in the HDSB Burlington Secondary School PAR process and for contributing to the related blogs hosted by the Burlington Gazette.

    HDSB PAR Supporting documentation can be found here:

    The Ontario Ministry of Education Administrative Review process can be found here