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Board Finds Trustee in Breach of Code of Conduct

Board Finds Trustee in Breach of Code of Conduct
Posted on 06/30/2020
Board Finds Trustee in Breach of Code of Conduct

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has censured Trustee Donna Blackburn under the Board Member Code of Conduct and strongly recommended she offer her resignation. 

In a unanimous vote at a Special Board meeting on June 29, the Board found that Trustee Blackburn’s behavior did not meet the behavioural expectations of an elected trustee, as established in sections 3.8, 3.15 and 3.18 of the Board Member Code of Conduct policy.   

In speaking to the issue, trustees expressed deep concern about the manner in which Trustee Blackburn approached a Black youth who was playing basketball in a city park on March 27, 2020; the language she has admitted to having used in that incident; and the subsequent posting of his photo on her social media page. Board members called out this behaviour as shaming, racist, and an abuse of privilege.

Among the recommendations of sanctions, the Board noted Trustee Blackburn engaged in behavior “which was disrespectful to the individuals directly involved, disrespectful to the Black community as a whole, and which used language which is known to be offensive and more specifically engaged in an act of anti-Black racism”.

Sanctions applied against Trustee Blackburn included barring her from attending the Board meeting at which the Board will consider the approval of the 2020-2021 Annual Budget and also barring her from sitting on several committees of the Board for a six-month period. In addition, the Board encouraged Trustee Blackburn to participate in anti-racism training and further professional development.

While several Trustees requested further actions to be taken, legal counsel advised that the recommended sanctions reached the extent of what was permissible under the Education Act.

Following the conclusion of this matter, Trustee Lynn Scott put forward a separate motion, which was approved by Trustees, calling on the Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA) to advocate for improvements to Section 218 of the Education Act and O. Reg. 246/18 to enhance school boards’ ability and authority to address unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour by board members.

Board Chair Lynn Scott noted “This has been a difficult issue for the community and Board. We appreciate the patience of the community as we have worked through the process to ensure this matter could be fairly addressed. It is not a decision we take lightly. Although Trustee Blackburn has been found in breach of the Code of Conduct and will face sanctions, we know there is more work our Board will need to do to restore trust with the community. As the OCDSB works to address issues of systemic racism within the education system, we commit to listen and act on concerns raised and ensure we recognize and respect the dignity of all community members.” 


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The following sanctions were recommended:



A. That, in accordance with Section 4.37(a) of Policy P.073.GOV, the Board censure Trustee Blackburn for behavior which was disrespectful to the individuals directly involved, disrespectful to the Black community as a whole, and which used language which is known to be offensive and more specifically engaged in an act of anti-Black racism; and further,


i.       That the Board condemn the behavior of Trustee Blackburn which is not representative of the values and beliefs of the Board of Trustees; and

ii.       That the Board stand with the community in strongly recommending that Trustee Blackburn immediately offer her resignation from the office of OCDSB Trustee, Zone 3, Barrhaven/Knoxdale-Merivale;

 

B. That, in accordance with Sections 4.37(b) and 4.39 of Policy P.073.GOV, Trustee Blackburn be barred from attending the Board meeting at which the Board will consider the approval of the 2020-2021 Annual Budget;

 

C. That, in accordance with Section 4.37(c) of Policy P.073.GOV, Trustee Blackburn be barred from sitting on the following committees of the Board for the six month period beginning with the next scheduled meeting of each of the following committees:


Committee of the Whole,

Committee of the Whole (Budget),

Parent Involvement Committee,

Audit Committee,

Any Advisory Committee designated under Section 9.5(c) of the OCDSB By-Laws,

Appeals Hearing Panels,

Expulsion Hearing Panels, and

Any Ad Hoc Committee established by the Board; and further,

 

D. That, in accordance with Section 4.38 of Policy P.073.GOV, the Board encourage Trustee Blackburn to immediately undertake and complete an Anti-racism program to be recommended by the Board’s Human Rights and Equity Advisor;

 

E. That, in accordance with Section 4.38 of Policy P.073.GOV, the Board encourage Trustee Blackburn to immediately undertake and complete a review of the Good Governance for School Boards, Trustee Professional Development Program and provide a copy of the Certificate of Completion to the Board.

 

F. That the Board refrain from appointing Trustee Blackburn to any representative position or role on behalf of the Board for a period of six months beginning  1 December 2020.



Background documents on this meeting, including the Investigator’s report can be found in the meeting agenda package.


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