Halton Catholic District School Board

Board of Trustees

School board trustees are elected officials who are supposed to serve the community and, above all, students.

Parents of Black Children has taken the time to evaluate the performance of trustees, record any instances of anti-Black racism, and also share information about trustees who are strong advocates.

While trustees with limited information may not have instances of anti-Black racism or strong advocacy that ends up in the news, their silence speaks volumes. Silence is complicity in the harm perpetuated against Black students and their families in Ontario schools. Trustees must actively stand up for what is right and make their support for the the fight against anti-Black racism in Ontario schools known.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and is constantly evolving. If you have information to share about the conduct of trustees, please email us at info@parentsofblackchildren.org

Brenda Agnew, Vice-Chair of the Board, Burlington Trustee

  • Always puts student achievement and well-being first 
  • Ensures representation of all student voices 
  • Responsible for tabling a motion to fly the Pride Flag in June (though it was defeated)
  • Brought forward a motion with a student trustee in 2019 to provide free menstrual products in bathrooms for all students (instead of products being behind an administrator’s desk)
  • Chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee and advocate for students with special education needs 

Links:

 

Marvin Duarte, Chair of the Board, Milton Trustee

Issues:

  • Voted against allowing non-Catholic students to serve as trustees and against flying the Pride flag
  • Prioritizes IB and AP programs over other specialty programs (including special education – he was on the STEM committee and didn’t involve Special Education stakeholders)
  • Served as vice-chair for three years
  • Does not outright delay or frustrate proceedings, but generally is unwilling to take leadership action or make ‘hard’ decisions

Links:

 

 

Peter DeRosa, Oakville Trustee

Issues:

  • Ran on a platform of being a progressive trustee and pulled a full 180 on election, generally voting very ‘right-wing’ on all decisions including flying the Pride Flag and allowing non-Catholic student trustees 
  • Regularly opposes meeting minutes and agendas without raising objections or amendments
  • Voted against Equity Audit which would review all HCDSB policies and procedures to ensure equitable treatment of staff and students
  • Penchant for delivering lengthy soliloquies without actually making a point or asking a question, often needing to be prompted by the Chair 
  • Unwilling to make any hard decisions on any topic, often voting to delay, seek additional information, or abstaining entirely 
  • Spotlighted in the ‘Trustee Conduct’ report published in the Sept 7 2021 board meeting package for repeatedly partaking in frustrating, delaying, and dilatory behaviour at the board table (behaviour has been so bad that Chair Murphy had to request a third party to write a report on trustee conduct, which is such an embarrassment)

Links:

Nancy Guzzo, Oakville Trustee

  • Staunch ally and advocate for equity between all students
  • Supported Pride and non-Catholic student trustee motions with passion and vigor
  • Tabled the motion to write a letter to the Ministry in support of making menstrual products free for students province-wide
  • Tabled the motion in August 2020 to ensure maximum school safety that saw all students at elementary schools wear masks (not just grade 4 and up as was originally mandated by the Ministry)
  • Chair of the Policy Committee for three years

Links:

Helena Karabela, Oakville Trustee

Issues:

  • Attempted to get the board to write a letter to the Senate in opposition of Bill C-7 (medically assisted death), despite it having nothing to do with education, and included a clause in her motion to block promotion for teachers and staff who did not openly reject assisted death practices
  • Voted against Equity Audit which would review all HCDSB policies and procedures to ensure equitable treatment of staff and students
  • Turned her back on a student delegation and left the meeting when she was called out for blocking fundraising efforts
  • Repeatedly voted against motions to promote 2SLGBTQ+ and non-Catholic inclusivity and acceptance, including rejecting any policy whose wording includes support for marginalized groups
  • Attempted to allow further exemptions to the HCDSB COVID vaccine policy, though these efforts were rejected

Links:

Vincent Iantomasi, Burlington Trustee

Issues:

  • Consistently opposed all efforts to promote inclusivity and acceptance of marginalized groups, including voting against flying the Pride flag and including inclusive language in the board’s mission and vision statements 
  • Has been ejected from meetings three times in 2021 for argumentative, disrespectful, and general dilatory behaviour 
  • Is on record stating that denominational rights should supercede human rights 
  • Voted against Equity Audit which would review all HCDSB policies and procedures to ensure equitable treatment of staff and students
  • Specifically called out for behaviour that served to only frustrate and delay proceedings in the Trustee Conduct report commissioned by Chair Murphy 
  • Stated that “slavery isn’t about coloured people or Indians or anything like that” during a professional development session on anti-Black racism training
  • Served as Chair for one year before being challenged and defeated by Trustee Murphy

Links:

Video 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEDR3_0G4tQ

May 27 Board Meeting

Timestamp: 1h 44m for human rights quote

Video 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrtnUsjpqz4

Anti-Black Racism Training

Timestamp: 1h 59m for slavery quote

https://www.hcdsb.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/BOARD_2021_09_07_REPORT.pdf

 

Patrick Murphy, Milton Trustee

  • Challenged Trustee Iantomasi for the Chair position and has been the strongest chair of the three chairs this term, presiding with fairness and structure 
  • Commissioned a third-party report into trustee conduct after being accused of bias by Trustee DeRosa; the report found no evidence of bias 
  • Spoke against raising the pride flag, stating that the symbolism and relevance of the flag was not universally understood

Links:

Tim O’Brien, Burlington Trustee

Issues:

  • Consistently opposed all efforts to promote inclusivity and acceptance of marginalized groups, including speaking against flying the Pride flag and including inclusive language in the board’s mission and vision statements 
  • Voted against Equity Audit which would review all HCDSB policies and procedures to ensure equitable treatment of staff and students
  • Tabled a motion to spend $47k on soliciting stakeholder feedback via paper mail (the motion was defeated) 
  • Tabled an amendment to a motion that would allow Principals to measure the faith of staff when conducting performance reviews (the amendment was defeated)

Links:

 

Janet O’Hearn-Czarnota, Halton Hills Trustee

Issues: 

  • Votes in favour of motions that support equity and inclusion, though rarely puts forward motions herself 
  • Removed the Pride flag from Trustee Agnew’s original Pride motion in an effort to salvage something from the motion (to make the motion acceptable to those who would otherwise oppose it); kept in-school safe space signage (reduced from each room to each school) and added mandatory 2SLGBTQ+ training for staff 

Links:

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