Muir: The overall Board performance in handling the PAR, tells me their own deeds indicate that they cannot be trusted.

highschoolsBy Tom Muir

April 30, 2017


Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident who does not have children in school, continues his struggle with the Halton District School Board to get the full story on why Hayden high school was built.  He believed the answer would be in public documents the Board and Ministry of Education have – and he wanted to see those records.

His email correspondence, which began in part 1, continued in part 2 and continues here  in part 3.  The words are taken from email Muir had with different staff at the HDSB and or the Ministry of Education and comments he makes on the process of getting information.

Part 3 of a four part series:

Muir making a pointWhat you are saying is that these staff “interpretations” are not to be challenged or questioned, and will get no written response to such things. I’m supposed to be satisfied with the “words” only of the staff involved.

You do with the FOI what you want to get more time until the PAR process is over.

Why should I take the word of people who will not engage me in writing? Why should I accept interpretations of documents, where the interpretations include statements and words and facts that do not appear in said documents?

I stand by my comments made and questions asked, that Lucy only wanted to talk about, not bear witness in writing. You continue to defy responding to that email – and now you have this one – to prove me wrong with evidence from the documents you provided, where I found my points of contention.

What you might tell me in words only is not relevant to the data and evidence basis of the FOI request and documents.

I have no reason whatsoever to trust the Board from my own experience.

Combining that with the negative public reception of the overall Board performance in handling the PAR, tells me their own deeds indicate that they cannot be trusted.

This timeline shows that Hayden planning was a bungled mistake that lost track of the consequences, and the need to tell residents and parents about them. In fact, these consequences were willfully ignored and put off to an undetermined future, which is here right now.

Then, to double down on this bungled planning, basically the same people and thinking are proposing an even bigger bungled mistake – closing schools because of the first mistakes that were made.

Trusting these people will lead beyond mere failure to learn from mistakes, but to destructive actions for Burlington and education.

Closing schools in Burlington is a train wreck.

To Director Miller, I would say, that if the known consequences of building all these empty seats were not important to deal with back in 2008, then how can they be important now?

If schools do not have to be closed, and money is not the issue, then what’s the hurry now to make irrevocable decisions with tragic consequences?

If it’s truly about the students, and what benefits them, then how can it be important to decide to close schools right now?

It’s just wrong to put such a decision, in such circumstances, to the Board of Trustees, who are mostly inexperienced and under pressure that was not anticipated.

They cannot be expected to deal with this very well, and recommending closures, especially when not needed, will put them into an impossible position.

Personally, I do not want to close any schools, period. But I recognize possibilities, in compromise, to relieve opposing tensions.

You can recommend two tracks. Do not close any schools – because we don’t have to. When not needed, it’s a bad idea.

The compromise is to close no schools now, and take a 2-3 year deferral to consider and deliberate about what we should really do, and can do, about the space situation.

Eventually, all the Board, to varying extents, will come under pressure at some time. We need a much better process and arena to be considerate and deliberate about these matters.

In that period, we can elapse the Trustee term of office, have another election, with what we decide to do about our situation as a key issue. In that period, the Trustees can perhaps better gain their feet and become more adept at this kind of decision-making, and pressure. And residents and parents can perhaps do something similar.

That’s the best compromise I can offer. It will relieve the pressure, but I’m sure has it’s own set of unforeseen consequences. The Board staff might just keep bungling, and not be cooperative.

The main idea is to make sure, as best we can, that we don’t make more stupid mistakes by acting with haste when we don’t have to.

Remember, slowness remembers, and hurry forgets.

But we can still act decisively and close no schools. Put this business behind us.

This is a long and at times monotonous series of articles – why publish all this stuff now?   Imagine if the public had had an opportunity to fully debate the opening of Hayden when that took place in 2012?  Imagine if there had been something on the public record accessible to all?

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4 comments to Muir: The overall Board performance in handling the PAR, tells me their own deeds indicate that they cannot be trusted.

  • Sharon

    Unfortunately the only Board of Education we can rid of in the October 2018 elections is the Trustees. And they are being fed the same proverbial as we are.

  • Stephen White

    Maybe if we took all of Tom’s detailed notes we could turn it into comedy screenplay, sell the rights to a Hollywood producer, and use the revenue to keep the schools open.

    Seriously…this entire issue is beyond ridiculous. Why Hayden was built in the first place is highly suspect. The lack of a detailed response from public servants to Tom’s very reasonable questions and incisive analysis is extremely concerning. At best it raises troubling questions regarding the communication protocols of those in power, not to mention the level of competence of Board officials.

    That October 2018 election can’t come soon enough! Time to get out the proverbial vacuum cleaner and suck ’em all out of City Hall and the Boards of Education.

  • Tom Muir

    For those who think this is a long and at times monotonous series of articles, remember, I called it a marathon experience that I was put through by the Board and the Ministry, right at the beginning.

    It could have been short and sweet, but no, the Board would answer none of my questions, and provide no explanations, which is unacceptable behaviour by a public institution.

    They made me go to the Freedom of Information Office to try and get information. Even with that law, which is supposed to be for just such unresponsiveness and refusal to answer for things, the Board managed to make it too into another trial.

    The Ministry of Education (another public institution), as it turned out, gave me another unbelievable experience – you will see this in part 4.

    So my writings here are just the tip of the iceberg of this experience that was forced on me. I didn’t make it up, and didn’t want it.

    So, I’m sorry if you get bored with reading about this.

    Just don’t complain the next time you or your kids or family get screwed by bureaucrats and governments, and you can’t get any information or explanations or any responsiveness at all.

  • Sharon

    Tom, I agree with wholeheartedly. Why wasn’t the public notified of the building of Haydon. In the million of emails that are going in between parents now. A question has come up since the Board meeting last Tuesday. At the Board meeting Miller stated that Pearson was built as an overflow school for MMR so why isn’t being used as an overflow for Haydon. It’s a 2 km difference instead of turning left you turn right.
    As far a closing Bateman the only question I have is why would you spend $12 million dollars on a 40-year-old building Nelson when you already have it at Bateman. We could go into moving the most vulnerable students in Burlington. Most of these students have already gone to 3 to 5 elementary schools before getting to Bateman. There seems to be no regard for them. Not to mention that the Nelson community has made it loud and clear that they don’t want Bateman.