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HWDSB asks trustee to resign

HWDSB asks trustee to resign

The Hamilton Wentworth District School board, has among other recommendations, suggested to trustee Carole Paikin Miller that she consider resigning. It was one of five recommendations regarding Paikin-Miller in the wake of a damning report that said some trustees engaged in racist commentary and other actions that a former student trustee found to be discriminatory. The sanctions against Miller  included  a formal letter of Censure of the trustee as an official reprimand, requesting a formal apology, requiring the trustee to do additional training on equity, governance and anti-racism training. barring the trustee from sitting on all committees of the board until the Initial Board December 2021 as long as the required training is completed, and “the Board recommends that the trustee resigns (sic) so that the Board can uphold the integrity and dignity of the office.

Miller became the trustee for the east Hamilton Ward five after defeating the incumbent Todd White  who had been Chair of the board for several years. While a trustee, White had worked part time for Miller’s husband, NDP MPP Paul Miller and filed a human rights complaint alleging  bullying, racist comments, and abuse of office resources. White was terminated by Miller and an undisclosed settlement was reached.  Paikin Miller’s ouster of White was widely regarded as getting even for White’s charges against Paul Miller. MPP Miller’s online biography contains this sentence: ”Paul helped his wife – Carole Paikin-Miller – a teacher, to promote her anti-racism book for children, which won the Anti-bias Curriculum Development Award from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.”

There is no mechanism that would allow a Board of Education to force the resignation of a trustee.

With regard to former Board Chair Alex Johnstone the board found that there were two technical breaches made that were inadvertent and made in error of judgement, but in good faith and do not require sanctions. However she was sanctioned for failure “to stop alleged racist comments made during the June 22, 2020 Board meeting and that she prevented a motion from being tabled at the June 22, 2020 Board meeting.

For these breaches, Johnsone will receive a formal letter of Censure of the trustee as an official reprimand and will be asked to issue a second formal apology, since she already issued an apology when the consultant report was released. Johnstone will be asked to take additional training on equity, governance and anti-racism. She will be banned from holding any position of Chair on any committees until Initial Board in December 2021.

The Board found that in the case of complaints raised against Trustees Kathy Archer and Becky Buck, the Board of Trustees found that there were “no breaches of the Trustee Code of Conduct and no sanctions were required.”

In a statement, Board Chair Dawn Danko, wrote, “ we know this process has been lengthy and frustrating for many in our community, and for that we apologize. The investigator’s report clearly details that we failed to create a supportive and accepting environment for Ahona Mehdi. On behalf of the Board, we want to once again apologize to her. We can, and must, do better. This starts with holding ourselves accountable, both as a Board and as individuals. In accordance with the Education Act, the Board has decided on sanctions.

The statement went on the promise the board would work to end “systematic racism and bias so that no student or staff is ever made to feel the way Ahona Mehdi did.”

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