Parents get to air their concerns with the way their schools were closed.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 24th, 2017



The process of being heard for parents who have students at Lester B. Pearson high school and the Robert Bateman high school began last night at the Gary Allen high school on New Street.

Margaret Wilson, the provincially appointed Facilitator who was tasked with meeting with all the parties involved and preparing a report for the Ministry of Education on whether or not the Board Program Accommodation Review (PAR) policies were followed, set up a series of public meetings at which parents could delegate. The large room certainly wasn’t filled but the comments made were what parents needed to say – and last night they were heard.

The process put in place allowed for three delegations from each school. The speakers had a set amount of time to speak – but Wilson found she was able and prepared to extend those time slot to let people finish their delegation.

Ward - George getting his Cogeco minutes of fame

George Ward being interviewed by Cogeco TV

George Ward, one of the Pearson high school delegations, was direct – at times almost pugnacious in his comments.

Ward argued that delegations at the Halton District School Board (HDSB) were in some cases refused, that the Board would send email notifications late in the evening on the night before the delegation day, requesting a 250 word description of the delegation. Ward charged that this was done to “deflect” delegations.

“There is no Board policy requirement for a 250 word outline to be presented prior to delegation” said Ward who added that “in spite of providing the last minute 250 word outline I was still refused to delegate on two occasions May 17th and June 7th.”

There were, said Ward 65 delegations presented over four evenings – 95% of the delegations indicated that it was totally inappropriate to close two Burlington high schools.

Ward pointed out that Board policy states: The Director’s Final Report will include a community consultation section that would include:

• Feedback from the public delegation will be compiled and included
• The Director will present the Final Report, including the compiled feedback from the public delegations

He added that the Director’s Final Report on community feedback is only 5 lines on page 20 and includes only delegation dates with an incorrect number of delegations reported.

Ward took exception to the statement in the HDSB response to the Pearson Administrative Review request that said: “One local Burlington Councillor provided feedback on the closure of Robert Bateman …”. In fact there were four submissions from city Councillors expressing concern with the closing of Burlington high schools.

Ward maintained that the records are incorrect and do not comply with the Board’s policies.

Kelly Amos

It was a tough meeting and the Chair, Kelly Amos didn’t always have have it under control.

Ward pointed out that at the June 7th meeting, at which the trustees voted to accept the recommendation from Stuart Miller, HDSB Director of Education, the Board Chair, Kelly Amos, failed to competently manage the sequence of voting motions and amendments. Despite having both the Board’s legal counsel and a Parliamentarian in the room Amos was still unable to competently conduct the sequence in orderly fashion and as a result lost control of the meeting.”

Ward said that at that point in the meeting, the Director of Education, said to Amos: “Perhaps I may be of assistance” then proceeded to filibuster on the recommendations in his Final Report, then called upon Board Superintendents who continued to delegate.

“After this extended acquiescing of control and inappropriate delegations of over an hour, a recess was called where the Director, Superintendents and Trustees save one, went into a segregated closed door meeting. Upon their return a vote was held which resulted in the Trustees voting to close two Burlington High Schools” said Ward.

“Thus we have incompetent meeting control with an inappropriate hour long school board last minute delegation that is non-compliant to the Board’s “No fewer than ten (10) business day Policy between delegations and the final decision of the Board of Trustees.”

Ward didn’t detail the “No fewer than ten business days” concern that many had. The PAR policy required to HDSB to hear delegations and then allow a period of ten days to elapse before a vote was taken.

The HDSB was hearing delegations as late as 11:00 pm, taking breaks during which trustees, some Superintendents and the Director of Education met for close to an hour and then returning to vote on the recommendation.

The ten day period during which trustees could think about all the delegations, review what they had heard during a process that started six month earlier and reflect was lost.

The vote took place after midnight of a meeting that started at 7:00 pm.

Many felt the fix was in – that the trustees had no intention of doing their jobs – but had decided they were going to go with the recommendation that came from the Director of Education.

For the first time parents from schools that were scheduled to be closed had an opportunity to say what they felt in a public meeting.

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8 comments to Parents get to air their concerns with the way their schools were closed.

  • Norah

    The following is quoted from the HDSB Policies on Public Delegations to the Board of Trustees:

    1. “Members of the public will be given the opportunity to provide feedback on the Director’s Final Report through public delegations to the Board of Trustees at a properly constituted Board meeting.” The news article above indicates Ward was denied this opportunity on two occasions May 17 and June 7, 2017. This refusal to permit delegations on two occasions is non-compliant with HDSB Policies. If you check you will see others were also denied the opportunity to delegate.

    2. “Feedback from the public delegations will be compiled and included as information to the Board of Trustees together with the Director’s Final Report.”
    There are 5 lines of feedback from 65 delegations and the number of delegations is incorrect and there is no evidence of delegations being compiled and included as information. This is another non-compliance with HDSB Policies.

    3. “There must be no fewer than ten (10) business days between the date of the public delegations and the final decision of the Board of Trustees.” There were six (6) public delegations on the night of final decision of the Board of Trustees.

    4. HDSB Chair Ms. Kelly Amos did not and could not competently control the HDSB Trustee meeting on the evening of June 7th, 2017. HDSB Director of Education Mr. Stuart Miller effectively took over the meeting with his statement “Perhaps I may be of assistance”. Director Miller then gave a lengthy DELEGATION on the recommendations in his own Director”s Final Report then had a number of HDSB Superintendents continue with further delegations on the Director’s Final Report lasting over an hour. Thus there is total non compliance to the HDSB Policies as the HDSB Director and Superintendents gave the final DELEGATION themselves.

    5. The 10 business day policy would have put the HDSB Trustee out to beyond June 22, 2017 probably to Tuesday June 27. The Ontario Ministry of Education moratorium on Ontario school closing due to a flawed and faulty process was announced on June 28, 2017. Also the HDSB Trustee meeting ran beyond midnight which makes the decision to close two schools another day later.

  • Sharon

    I have often wondered what would have happened if Central or Nelson had been in Miller’s final report. Do you think either of those schools would have said: “ok the process was fair, we totally agree with Miller’s decision”.
    So I don’t know why you find it so difficult to understand why Pearson and Bateman are still fighting. The PAR was flawed, the Board did not follow their own policy. In the Bateman Admin Review, there were 22 points where the Board failed. Pearson and Bateman are no complaining we want a fair, transparent and democratic process. Don’t know why that is so hard for you to understand.

    Edited – Unacceptable language used.

  • Tom Muir


    Thanks for a rebuttal of Pria. I’ve been watching the comments all through the schools thing, and she is just another fake news spout, saying whatever fabrication she wants in frankly offensive attack talk.

  • Steve Atkinson

    Excuse me, Pria. A knowledgeable public delegation called upon by the Minister of Education is not “complaining” nor is it “blaming”. It is part of the process that HDSB MUST abide by. You cannot silence the Democratic process. George Ward is accurate in his explanation of the facts, unlike your statement ” an incredible amount of delegations” . How can anyone object to dedicated community members being involved in saving an important part of their community?

    Are you aware that all PAR in Ontario are now stopped by the Minister of Education because they are flawed?

    Let Margaret Wilson do her appointed job, she is more than capable.

    • Pria

      They’re not stopped because they’re flawed. The Ministry wants to improve them, which is a good thing. That doesn’t mean they were flawed. The funny thing is, with all the rhetoric about “a flawed process leads to a flawed decision”…this so-called flawed decision actually resulted in an incredibly well thought out, incredibly detailed, correct decision. The trustees and board staff put so much time and consideration into this process and decision and they way they get dragged through the mud by some people, and not just professionally but on a personal level, is awful.

  • Pria

    So the Pearson group (George) is complaining that he was denied a delegation on June 7, while the Bateman group is complaining that they allowed delegations on June 7. You simply can’t win with these groups. They are going to place blame no matter what the board does. The board provided so much opportunity for input from the public – an incredible amount of delegations. The trustees listened, we all listened, we all understood. The correct decisions were made. I understand that whichever schools closed, those communities are going to be upset but it’s important that the truth doesn’t get lost in it all.

    • Steve

      The truth unfortunately is that the Halton Board wanted a new high school in Burlington even though student enrollment numbers didn’t show it was necessary. So they intentionally changed the catchment areas for Bateman and Pearson to starve them of students and diverted them to Hayden high school. The board then waited a few years and found, surprise surprise, Bateman and Pearson were suffering from low enrollment and ripe for closure.

      Think about it for a second, why would you need to build a new high school if you then need to close two others a few years later? It’s not like Burlington has had some unexpected population fluctuations in the last few years or something. The argument for having to bus to schools farther away from the new Alton neighborhood doesn’t make sense because Hayden has the highest percentage of students bused in of any high school in Burlington. And even more students will be taking the bus after these closures, not less.

      This was a self created problem by the Halton Board which has resulted in, I believe, at last count 16 portables in the parking lot at a brand new high school while claiming that two others need to close. I am sure it is no coincidence that the Halton Board wants to build a brand new head office for millions of dollars, money they can easily get from selling off the land that Pearson and Bateman currently sit on to developers. The city gets to collect some more development fees to help tamp down property tax increases. Everybody wins except the students losing their schools and the kids sitting in the portables at Hayden this winter.

      It’s important to remember that from around a dozen communities requesting a review of school closings announced this year only these two have been subjected to a review by the province, that alone indicates that this was a flawed process from the beginning. And calling them flaws is being rather polite in my opinion …

      • Pria

        I am fully aware about the controversy surrounding Hayden but that is a separate issue. Hayden is here and that won’t change. The problem now is that these schools (Pearson and particularly Bateman) are severely under-utilized. Peason, I agree could have a boundary change the alleviate over-population of Hayden, and it would benefit both schools, but then MM remains left way under-utilized. It’s shuffling the deck which the board explained at length and it doesn’t solve the underutilization problem.

        As for the facilitator being assigned, that doesn’t indicate anything other than the application for the review met the criteria set in the PARG. That’s it. It is not an admission that anything wrong was done. You can tell yourself otherwise, but you’d be wrong.