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OCDSB Responds to Community Concerns

OCDSB Responds to Community Concerns
Posted on 04/09/2020
OCDSB Responds to Community Concerns

An Open Letter to Our Students, Staff, Families and Broader Community:

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board received a complaint regarding an alleged incident between Trustee Donna Blackburn and a young person who was playing basketball in a community park. Many questions have been raised about what action will be taken.  We wanted to respond to those questions and share information with the community directly about the investigation which is underway.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in our community.  Every person has the right to be free from racial discrimination and harassment.  No person should be treated differently because of race, ancestry, colour, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship or creed.  When allegations are made that an individual is not treated in accordance with these principles, it is essential that they be taken seriously and addressed in accordance with both the law and the policies of the organization.

Every investigation must be undertaken within the principles of procedural fairness.  Procedural fairness ensures that no party to the investigation is unfairly affected, and is essential to the integrity of the process and the outcome. The key steps to ensuring procedural fairness include determining the authority for and nature of an investigation; identifying who will conduct the investigation; conducting interviews; documenting findings; considering evidence and making a decision, within the scope of authority.

In this case, the Board’s authority as established in the Education Act, is outlined in the Board Member Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct sets the standard of behavioral expectations for trustees of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. It includes a process for complaints; investigations; the decision making process to determine if there was a breach of the Code; and a list of possible sanctions.

While the scope of the Board’s authority does not include the authority to remove someone from elected office, if the Board determines there has been a breach of the Code of Conduct, the Board can censure a member, bar the member from attending a meeting, and/or bar the member from sitting on committees of the Board.

A formal complaint has been received under the Code of Conduct.  The complaint will be investigated by an independent third party who will provide a report to the Board. The process is confidential while underway, but once the Board receives a report, it will be considered and a decision will be rendered at a public meeting of the Board of Trustees.

The OCDSB Human Rights and Equity Advisor plays an important advisory role in the organization.  Independent of the Code of Conduct process, this incident has surfaced concerns in the community which require attention.  The HREA will work with the community to better understand these issues and work with the leadership of the Board, both administrative and political, to effect change to our policies and practices.

We have heard the concerns of the community.  We understand the concerns and we are taking action.  We must allow the complaint process to be followed.  We will keep the community informed.

Lynn Scott
Chair of the Board 
Keith Penny
Vice-Chair of the Board 
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