What if ...

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 16th, 2017



In the near future there will be an announcement on the appointment of a Facilitator who will review the request for an Administrative Review of the Halton District School Board trustee decision to close two of the city’s seven high schools.

There was a request from the parents at Pearson high school and a request from the parents at Bateman high school for Administrative reviews.

The bar to getting a review was not low – the parents had to show they had wide community support.

The Facilitator will meet with each parent group and meet with the Board of Education staff for reaction from them.

And in the fullness of time there will be a response.

What if – the Facilitator decides there was enough wrong with the process and recommends that the PAR be done again?

PARC with options on the walls

Would another PAR Committee be formed?

The Board would, we think, have to create a new Program Accommodation Review (PAR)  and put a new recommendation forward. Would a new recommendation be any different than the first which was to close Pearson and Central and then revised to close Pearson and Bateman?

Assume all this happens.

Would the current Board of Trustees act any differently?

The power to make a decision exists at the Board of Trustee level and that group does not appear to be in touch with the sentiment in the community.

Unfortunately the Burlington communities are quite fractured – making it difficult for the trustees to make a decision.

Central demo #4

The Central parents were out early and they spared no effort to make sure they told their story.

Central high school parent care only that their school not be closed. They put forward very solid arguments and did a superb job of rallying the parents and focusing the concerns.

The Pearson parents didn’t have anywhere near the resources that Central had and there was a lingering unwillingness to be as bold and as forward as the Central parents were.

The Batman parents failed to read the tea leaves.

The issue the trustees were given was that Burlington has 1800 classroom seats with no students in them. (We appreciate the 1800 number is debatable.) If this was true, it was evident the moment the first map showing where the high schools were located that Batman was at significant risk. They failed to see that until their name was on the list of schools to be closed and while they have done a decent job of getting their story out they have not shown an ability to work with the Pearson parents and create a united front.

PAR presentation - ay Bateman Nov 2 HDSB

That empty room was a damaging and telling statement made by the Bateman parents.

The Bateman grievances are real. They have every reason to feel that they have not been heard. Part of the reason is they didn’t say very much early in the game when it counted.

Given all the turmoil within the different parent groups is it any wonder that the trustees took the safe route and went with the recommendation they were given by the Director of Education?

There was within all the options put before the trustees one that would have given the community the time it needed to take a long hard look at just what Burlington has in the way of high schools and what it needs now and what will be needed ten years from now.

Option 7 - short

Option 7 – close no schools – was on the table but it didn’t get a lot of support from the PARC – this tally was 8 out of 14.

Option number 7 was to not close any schools and take some time to determine just what future needs were going to be. Much of the data the Board staff put forward was suspect and didn’t stand up to the scrutiny the PAR tried to impose.

The public may have expected the trustees to make that kind of decision – the current board of trustees just isn’t up to that task.

Someone is going to have to come forward and pull the parent groups together and hammer out what they collectively want and take whatever consensus they can find to the Board administration and the trustees.

And then begin looking for trustee candidates across the Region to fill those seats with people who are up to the task.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions of the publisher of the Gazette

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7 comments to What if …

  • Sharon

    Trish is so right. During the PAR conversations were about the English stream and French Immersion, not Special Education. Only those of us that had/have their children in Spec. Ed. spoke out. Call it undereducated or anything you want but these students were allowed to fall through the cracks. And they are as important as anyone else.

  • Will

    Just to look at the 7 out of 14 is wrong. All 14 people were given 3 dots each. It would be 7 out of 42 because most of the dots were the 19b and 28c.

    Special education parents were given a survey that had nothing to do with the PAR and nothing in the PAR had anything to do with special education. How could any parent in the special education placement and programs at Bateman know that the special education at Bateman would even be considered a valid move.

    • Trish

      And we gave the board and trustees way to much credit.

      Without proper discussion/research it was only natural to believe these responsible adults who are supposed to have ALL the students best interests at heart did not consider Robert Bateman a viable option for closure. It was a natural assumption to believe that the Director of Education and our Trustees realized the impact such a decision would have on Burlington’s most vulnerable students.

      A transition of this magnitude will have a significant effect on the CPP students. An effect that will umbrella to their families and upon each other. Many of these students will feed off each others anxieties.

      The early years for many of the CPP students educations were very difficult ones. Parents have had to fight to get their children the help they needed. They have had to move from school to school. For our family, settling into Bateman has been such a relief. Bateman has offered the stability and the strength of programming that our CPP students deserve. We can finally let the breath out that we have held from JK until grade 9.

      The Gazette keeps saying the Bateman parents failed. Trust me, many of us have been fighting for our children for many, many years. Our mistake was to give credit where credit was obviously not due.

  • Penny

    Is there such a thing as an impartial facilitator? He who pays the bill seems to be the winner in the end

    • Hans

      It may be difficult, but perhaps there is a retired university professor or judge who could be agreed upon to facilitate by the main affected parties.

  • Hans

    Re: “Much of the data the Board staff put forward was suspect and didn’t stand up to the scrutiny….” – That’s the “elephant in the room”, isn’t it? What kind of board makes important decisions based on “suspect” data? I think the answer is obvious.

    No reasonable person could consider this to have been a fair process: for starters, Pearson had already lost much feeder capacity, making it more difficult to oppose closure, and Bateman was blindsided by being included very late in the process.

    Clearly a new process is required, managed by an impartial third party and
    certainly not by the staff of this board.

    • Tom Muir


      I don’t know how many times I have to talk about the real elephant in the room, but here goes again. A longer version is in the Gazette story announcing the success of the AR appeal back 10 or so days ago.

      I have consistently said from the start that the NE Burlington secondary school (subsequently, Hayden) was built deliberately, with planning of, and full knowledge of the consequences we face now. And most importantly, done with no PAR, to let everyone in the Burlington community of schools know what the implications are.

      The PAR was warranted at the time of the planning, back then, when the consequences were so clearly known. Bateman and Pearson were put in the cross hairs by design.

      All the schools were blindsided with no warning, and ambushed with a PAR that put them at each throats. The poor parents were naive and didn’t have the time or wherewithal to question where all this came from.

      Hayden effectively built almost all of the excess capacity we have now (1500 to 1600 seatsm maybe 1800 in future), with no available record of a written rationale based on new pupil place needs, in terms of the enrollment greater than capacity, and the need for additional program and learning opportunities.

      So again, that’s what the Board passed for a fair process. And all the suspect data, that could not pass scrutiny, was a designed part of it.

      It was rigged 10 years ago, and that’s no lie.