The school closing delegation process - there is a bylaw that governs that process.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 4th, 2017



People want to speak and feel they are being heard.

Part of that process requires people to listen and to make themselves fully aware of whatever rules are in place.

The issue this time is parents wanting to be sure that they are being heard about the closing of high schools in Burlington.

There is a process. There is a bylaw. It may not be the most elegant piece of writing you are going to see – but there is a bylaw, written by the trustees you elected.

To date the Board of Education has something in the order of 75 requests to delegate. Two evenings were set aside for delegations with the possibility for an additional evening if it is needed.

Kelly Amos

Board of trustees chair Kelly Amos.

While the Gazette has yet to see a single word from Chair Kelly Amos, other than that the trustees would not be responding to our request to rank the values they brought to their jobs as trustees, the fact is that there is a by law that sets out very clearly just what the process is.

How many people have read that bylaw? We just don’t know. However, anyone who filled out the form asking to be a delegation would have had access to the bylaw because it was attached to the on-line form that had to be filled out in order to be accepted as a delegation.

People may not like the rules – the time to complain about them was when that bylaw was written.
Based on what we have learned from Board of Education sources the request are being received and processed. No one at the staff level is involved in the selection process. The chair of the Board of Trustees is doing the sifting through of the applications.

The objective, we are told, is to get a balance of views. What the Chair, apparently, does not want is 20 people from one school standing up and saying the same thing – ‘don’t close our school because our students are so very vulnerable’.

The trustees are acutely aware that some students are at risk and they struggle with the decision they are going to have to make.

The Gazette received the following from a parent:

Denise Davey at council April 3

Denise Davy – lead advocate for keeping Bateman open.

“I understand you’re looking into the 250 word submission that has suddenly been requested by the board. As the leading parent organizer for the Bateman group, you can quote me:

“This is just one more example of the board’s “change the rules” approach that has left parents furious and frustrated at every step of this process. There was never anything said about a 250-word submission until yesterday afternoon then parents had until the next day at noon to put something together.

One woman is on vacation and emailed me that she can’t possibly start putting something together as her laptop is at home with all of the information on it. Most people lead busy lives, especially parents who have a disabled child, and to ask this of them is inappropriate and disrespectful.”

There is nothing in the bylaw requiring an up to 250 word outline of what the delegation will be about. Getting a line that says “about closing Bateman high school” doesn’t help the chair choose who will be asked to speak.

There are some that will take the view that everyone and anyone should be allowed to speak. That is not the process your trustees have chosen – it is the trustees that chose this route and it is the trustees that actually wrote the bylaw. It is not something that was done by staff.

What the Board is looking for are delegations that add to the information they currently have. Emotions are running very high – this is an emotional issue.

It needs a good dose of rationality and common sense.

The Gazette has received a number of well thought papers supported by good data.

If you want your trustees to make the best decision for everyone then give them well thought out arguments and be prepared to follow that up with the time that has been allocated for the trustees to engage the delegations.

Rational if you can. An emotional rant isn’t going to get anyone anything.

The delegation bylaw was revised in January, became effective in February and is due for a revision in September of 2018.

The bylaw that is in place is what the public is going to have to live with.

There is one parent who takes a bit of a different slant on the process:  Here is what she has to say:

This process clearly demonstrates insensitivity and the ignorance we are dealing when it comes to this issue and the acceptance of inaccurate data and misinformation which has presented to the public over the course of the last several months. While everyone is entitled to their opinion… Have we forgotten what is to be human? What has happened to being sensitive to the needs and wants of others? What kind of world do we live in, when we completely disregard people and make decisions based solely on money? If money is the motivation behind this farce (which it clearly is) called a PAR process, then perhaps it is time to get creative and find alternative ways to offset costs and not destroy peoples lives and communities…just a thought.

The bylaw that governs the delegation process is set out below:

1. An individual or group may request the opportunity to delegate the Board of Trustees at a Regular or Special Meeting of the Board or at a Meeting of Committee of the Whole. The provisions of this by-law are applicable to both Board and Committee of the Whole meetings.
2. Potential delegates shall submit a Delegation Request Form (see appendix A) by no later than noon, two business days preceding the meeting at which the individual or group intends to delegate. The Delegation Request Form submission timelines will be adjusted for statutory holidays or non-standard meeting days (see appendix A).
If a delegate requires accommodations to submit their request, they should contact the Director’s Office for assistance. A delegate list will be published on the Board’s website 24 hours in advance of the Board meeting.
3. Potential delegates will be advised by the Chair or Vice Chair (or designate) that their request to present has been accepted or denied as soon after the submission deadline as is practical. A written rationale will be provided to potential delegates whose delegations have been denied, and the Board of Trustees will receive a copy of this rationale.
4. Up to six (6) delegations will be scheduled per meeting. Priority will be given to delegates who intend to address issues that appear on the ‘Ratification/Action’ section of the agenda, giving consideration to delegations with a variety of perspectives on an issue. Delegations will appear on the agenda in the order in which the requests have been received.
5. A request to delegate may be deferred to a subsequent meeting if the number of delegations exceeds the maximum number, or if the topic does not relate to an item on the agenda. The Chair or Vice Chair (as applicable) will notify the delegate of the deferral with an explanation and the Board of Trustees will receive a copy of this notification.
6. Requests to delegate at a Regular or Special Meeting of the Board may be referred to a meeting of Committee of the Whole if the topic of the delegation is not expected to relate to an item on an agenda of a Regular or Special Meeting of the Board in the foreseeable future. The Chair or Vice Chair (as applicable) will notify the delegate of the referral and the Board of Trustees will receive a copy of this notification.

7. In addition to the Delegation Request Form, delegates may choose to provide supplementary materials to be distributed to Trustees. These materials should be provided to the Director’s Office before 10 am on the day prior to the meeting. The Delegation Request Forms will be posted to the Board’s website, and any optional supplementary materials provided by the delegate(s) will be distributed to Trustees on the day prior to the Board meeting.

8. Where a request to delegate has been accepted, and the delegate is unable to attend the Board meeting for which their delegation has been scheduled, a substitute delegate may be recognized by the Chair or Vice Chair (as applicable).
9. Employees of the Board, or representatives of employee groups shall not utilize delegations to the Board to express their views relative to their employment or professional interests.
10. Individuals or groups who have delegated the Board of Trustees on a topic will be permitted to delegate again on the same topic no sooner than four months after the original delegation unless they are presenting new information.

11. Each delegation shall be allowed up to five (5) minutes for their presentation to the Board. Following each delegation, the Chair or Vice Chair (as applicable) will open the floor to Trustees for up to five (5) minutes for questions of clarification to either the delegate or staff.
12. Any delegate or substitute spokesperson(s) for a delegate is expected to refrain from the use of abusive language, or from making any derogatory statement concerning the character or performance of named individuals, including students, staff, citizens, or Trustees of the Halton District School Board. Any delegate who violates this section during their presentation shall be ruled out of order by the Chair or Vice Chair (as applicable) and may be asked to discontinue their presentation.

13. Notwithstanding the other sections of this By-Law, the Chair may, at their discretion, call a Special Delegation Night, specifically for the purpose of hearing delegations on a particular topic, for which all provisions of this By-Law will apply, with the exception that a maximum of twenty-five (25) rather than six (6) delegations will be allowed.

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4 comments to The school closing delegation process – there is a bylaw that governs that process.

  • Brent Hall

    “The delegation bylaw was revised in January, became effective in February and is due for a revision in September of 2018”

    It would be helpful if you could provide your readers with the previous version of the delegation bylaw. Is the new bylaw more limiting in allowing for the public voice? Just seems a little suspicious that the bylaw was changed just prior to the PAR process finishing.

  • Will

    I do not believe that chair Amos would say something to awful about the vulnerable students in the board.

    To add this sentence in is disrespectful to students.

    I guess the writer has been fortunate enough to never have to worry about a child with a disability.

  • Tom Muir

    Regarding the statement that what Trustees are looking for is delegations that add to the information they already have.

    Frankly, I have no idea how anyone could know what information they already have, or more likely, don’t have.

    The people have not had the opportunity to talk to the Trustees yet, so how could the Trustees possibly have their information?

    The HDSB is bought and paid for by residents and parents. We continue to pay all the bills and the schools are public assets, that we also own.

    The Trustees have a fiduciary, or a duty of trust responsibility to us, and it’s their job to listen and be responsible to us.

    So every person’s delegation or opinion, is some information that no one can say the Trustee already has, as each is unique to the words of that person.

    If that person, who is helping to pay the bills, wants to tell the Trustees that they want the Board to spend the money it takes to keep schools open, then that’s information that the Trustees don’t have.

    And if 100 people want to say the same or similar thing, or even the opposite, then that’s information the Trustees don’t have.

    How often do you get an issue, so inciting of public outcry that 100 people, or similar number, want to speak their mind to the elected officials responsible to those people?

    I daresay almost never.

    The collective, and formal expression of this public outcry is information that the Trustees do not have.

    They would be wise and just to make the effort to listen. I and many others say that it has not been listened to so far.

    They will learn something straight to the heart, if that part of them is open to really loving what they are supposed to do, and the kids and communities they are supposed to serve.

  • Nothing here imposes a 250 word cap that I can see. I has a 5 min limit instead.

    I find the 5 min time limit very difficult to work under. It takes 10 minutes to get a point across if you are backing it up with figures or reasoning.

    What I would do is 10 minute delegations with the ability to transfer remaining time to another delegate. This allows people to vote there time to another. There are normally a select group of delegates that have done a tone of background into what they are saying and people will remit time to them.

    Mind you this creates a democratic process where the thoughts of the community matter – exactly what school administrators are trying to avoid.