Stuart Miller, Director of Education for Halton District School Board resigns

News 100 redBy Staff

November 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At last night’s Board of Trustee meeting (Nov. 18, 2020) Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board, officially announced his retirement, effective Aug. 11, 2021.

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller, Director of education HDSB resigns – why now?

Miller, who has been the HDSB Director of Education since 2015 says the decision was difficult but he will always look back on his career in Halton with the fondest of memories.

“Although there have been many challenging moments, especially this year as we navigate through the pandemic, they are far outweighed by those times that brought me joy and a sense of purpose,” Miller says. “I only hope that I was able to do the same for all those staff, parents and especially students I have had the pleasure to work with and for. I would very much like to thank the current Board of Trustees and all those former trustees who entrusted me to lead the Board. Your faith in public education and confidence in me will never leave my thoughts.”

In her remarks, Halton District School Board Chair Andréa Grebenc says: “On behalf of all the Trustees, we thank Stuart for all he has done for the students, staff, Halton community and beyond. Stuart has inspired his team to do amazing, innovative things.”

“Stuart has reached into schools to develop personal, encouraging relationships with students and frontline staff. He has been an amazing relationship-builder with a wonderful sense of humour. His fiery oration has energized and galvanized, but it has also invoked empathy and a sense of duty and focus. Stuart looks for ways to both improve the system and himself, and he has accomplished so much in his long career with the Halton District School Board.”

Miller joined the HDSB in 1984 as a secondary school science and math teacher. His teaching career included teaching in Scotland and in Malawi, East Africa. In addition to being a Principal and Vice-principal in the HDSB, he also coached hockey and soccer, coordinated science fairs, and initiated and organized social justice conferences for students.

In 2009, Miller was appointed to the position of Superintendent of Education, and moved into the role of Associate Director in 2014. Prior to becoming the Director of Education, Miller had been instrumental in creating the Welcome Centre for students new to Canada and implementing an expansion of the international student program within the Board.

“I want to thank the senior team, both current and past,” Miller says. “You have been an endless source of inspiration to and for me. Your dedication to the welfare and success of our students and staff are unparalleled.”

The Board of Trustees will begin a comprehensive search process for a new Director of Education in the new year.

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4 comments to Stuart Miller, Director of Education for Halton District School Board resigns

  • Blair Smith

    I was not much involved in the PAR. I made my opinion known to Mr. Miller in both a meeting and a follow-up letter and then left the field to those braver and more competent. But let me be clear – I am not a fan of Mr. Miller nor of his administration. And there were many, with whom I am personally acquainted and have close relationship, who had much stronger feelings and with very good reason. And I find it extremely disappointing that they have muzzled their voice; that they stay silent and let others do their work for them.

    Thank you Lynn for bringing this forward and into the open. Shame on the rest of you.

  • Sharon

    Lynn we have not agreed on many issues. But I agree with you 100%.
    Well said, thank you!

  • Alan

    Misleading headline!!, A Planned Retirement is not defined as a resignation, especially when 9 months notice is given.

  • Lynn Crosby

    As someone who was very involved with the PAR process and the closure of two Burlington high schools a few years ago, I have my own memories and views of Director Miller. With that in mind, on March 6, 2020, I wrote to my trustee asking, on behalf of myself and others, why the Director’s five year contract had recently been extended, as it must have been since it was now over five years since he’d started. Specifically, I asked four questions: when was it extended; was this made public; how long is the extension; and what was the rationale for extending it.

    Her reply, on March 11 read: “The Director’s contract falls under privacy and is not shared in public – so you didn’t miss it.  The Director is welcome to share his contract if he chooses and as you know  It is also FOIable. I will tell you this, I’m personally delighted to have the Director continue to work with us.  All of the changes associated with the PAR are not entirely completed and this allows us to  hold him accountable to deliver on his commitments.”

    I found much wrong with this reply, including the suggestion I could file an FOI and the fact my questions weren’t answered and I replied back with more detail on March 13. Part of my letter quoted the report prepared for the Wynne government about the troubled York District School Board and highlighted their recommendation on the importance of director performance reviews being transparent and including input from the community in a confidential manner, and that the process must be well understood and communicated to stakeholders. I asked if there was any such opportunity for such community input during our Director’s performance assessment and contract extension, and if not, why not. I also stated that: “One could suggest that recommending that the PAR implementation be stretched out for several years while then using that as a basis for a contract extension for the Director to “deliver on his commitments” is questionable.” I also asked again for the contract details to be released.

    I then received a lengthy (multi-font) reply on March 27, stating that the Director, the Chair and the Vice Chair had been consulted. It said the Director’s Performance Review Policy is being reviewed, but that essentially the Policy is “silent on transparency”, as is the Education Act.

    It then went on to suggest that the public can always weigh in during the Board’s annual “Have your Say” survey, and the Multi-Year Plan, which they acknowledge does not specifically ask about the Director but “since the Director is in charge of the whole system, this is a direct reflection of his work.” Frankly nobody fills out this survey with the idea that they are evaluating whether the Director should have a contract extension.

    It ended with the thought that we must “focus forward” and that if I have “outstanding issues”, I should meet “face to face with the Director.”

    Since this was now March 27, and COVID was in full force, I obviously could not meet with him or anyone for some time. I said that I would reconnect on this when COVID is under control, and yes I would like to meet to discuss it.

    Now today we hear Director Miller is retiring in August. So I must ask what happened to the mantra that “All of the changes associated with the PAR are not entirely completed and this allows us to  hold him accountable to deliver on his commitments.” He’s leaving before that happens. Of course I have no idea how they thought they would “hold him accountable” anyway.

    I hope that when the Trustees choose a new Director, they seriously look at external candidates. There was a recent article I read in the CBC (September) about the large number of Directors in Ontario leaving their Boards. The article spoke of the benefits of bringing in a new person and getting “fresh ideas.” In my opinion, choosing a current HDSB Superintendent will simply be more of the same, and from things I saw and experienced during the PAR, I don’t believe that is positive nor shows a “forward focus.” We also have the recent controversy about the students who felt racism in the Board and asked for, but did not receive, a proper public apology. I find in the HDSB that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” with respect to the Director and his Superintendents and I believe a new fresh face is needed.

    I hope that they look for a Director who:

    – treats everyone within the Board with respect and professionalism, including not just the executive, but also Principals, students, parents and the public;

    – lives in Halton – I know this isn’t a legislated requirement, but having a Halton District School Board Director who lives within the community helps him/her feel the pulse of the community and have a true sensitivity to it. We’ve had more than enough in Burlington of those who plan and run our community but have chosen to live outside it;

    – values transparency, real public input and seeks out true community engagement;

    – knows how to build an appreciation of what the educational system should be for the future and prevents a sense of “winners and losers.”

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