Tonight, the trustees of the Toronto Catholic District School Board may vote to appoint its first Ombudsman. The publicly-funded Catholic school system, which serves over 91,000 students and is one of the largest in Canada, has been criticized for conflicts of interest and spending abuses by some trustees. Jo-Ann Davis, who was elected to the School Board after the controversy broke, proposed the Ombuds position.
Davis told the Toronto News that an Ombuds would help restore public confidence in the board and create a new mechanism for parents and students. “Our multi-year plan talks about building public confidence, and an ombudsman could help turn the board around from being under provincial supervision to leading the way in fairness and accountability,” she said.
At tonight's meeting, the Ad Hoc Governance Framework Committee will recommend that the trustees approve the creation of an independent, third-party Ombuds position that would report directly to the board of trustees for a two-year, full-time term contract. The position would have three primary duties: 1. informing visitors of their rights and remedies; 2. advising or resolving disputes; and 3. dealing with complaints and making recommendations to the board of trustees, as appropriate. Parents have submitted letters of support to the board and expected to speak at the meeting in favor of the proposal. (TCSDB Minutes 4/10/12, Agenda 5/24/12; Toronto News; Inside Toronto; Jo-AnnDavis.ca.)