EMSB chair pins blame for scathing report on 'movement to silence' her
A week after a scathing report called the English Montreal School Board “dysfunctional” and “immature,” the board’s chairperson said she could be open to having the EMSB placed under a trusteeship.
On Wednesday Angela Mancini said she agreed with much of the findings in the Education Ministry report, saying the board has work to do to improve its governance and administrative processes. She said she oscillates between thinking a trusteeship is a good idea or bad idea.
"Are we able to do it on our own?" she said. "I hope the minister will take into account there's a willingness from many council members to work at solving this. Right now, the most important thing for me is we solve the situation. How it gets done is maybe less important that it gets done."
Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said no decision has been made on what to do with the EMSB.
“It will take a few weeks to decide if we go for full trusteeship, partial trusteeship or other measures,” he said.
Released excerpts of the report documented a culture of infighting within the EMSB, with Mancini herself specifically singled out for criticism.
Mancini defended herself, saying she was the victim of a bullying culture. She singled out EMSB Vice-Chairperson Joe Ortona specifically, accusing him of using his majority support on the board to try and squeeze her out.
“I think we all have to take responsibility with what’s going on at the school board, including myself, but I think the report is clear as to the unethical methods used by many of my colleagues to ensure I was silenced,” she said. “When I began to speak and say things weren’t as great as they should be and we could improve things, there was a movement to silence me and have me removed from office.”
Ortona called the charges laughable.
"She's the one who comes out and says this publically but the fact of the matter is that in private administrators have come to us for years about her bullying and intimidation," he said.
In January, the board voted to cut Mancini’s salary after she was found guilty of numerous ethics violations.
The report alleged that commissioners lack understanding of their roles and hinted at possible financial impropriety. The report recommended the EMSB implement internal controls for reimbursements and a policy on credit card use.
Mancini said that she believes the issues plaguing the EMSB are unique, she does worry the Coalition Avenir Quebec government could use a trusteeship as part of a justification to eliminate school boards.
Ortona said he found Mancini's openness towards a trusteeship troubling.
"It's very disheartening to hear the chairman say that she's kind of okay with it all," he said. "You have to find a way to make it work. If you want to make it work, you can make it work but it starts by coming together. Instead, what we saw this morning was more division, more mud throwing. That just makes it more difficult."