Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Opinion: Catholic Board Coup?
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 20 Apr 2007, p. 6

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What started out as a difference of opinion regarding Halton Catholic District School Board policy has quickly escalated to an all-out power struggle among the board's nine school trustees. Last night (Thursday) a special meeting of the board was to decide whether or not veteran trustees Al Bailey (Burlington) and Alice Anne LeMay (Oakville) should resign their respective positions of chair and vice-chair of the board (they would still sit as voting members). A motion tabled by first-term Oakville trustee Anthony Danko, calling for the pair to resign, states: "... the majority of the trustees of the Halton Catholic District School Board no longer believe that the current chair and vice-chair of the board effectively speak on behalf of the majority of trustees." Halton Hills' rookie trustee Rosanna Palmieri is among those supporting the motion. We strongly suspect Burlington's Bob Van de Vrande had a hand in drafting the motion. He and Bailey have recently been at opposite ends of some very public verbal jousting matches regarding board policy. While opposing views are a part of any healthy democracy, it's unusual to see the leader of a group of elected officials asked to step down simply because others don't share his opinion. While Bailey has been excessively tenacious in ensuring that trustees are following board policy, isn't that one of the primary duties of the chair of any board? Bailey's contention that a recent decision by trustees-- related to a pilot school uniform project-- may have violated the board's own policies has undoubtedly been unpopular among some fellow trustees-- and most especially Van de Vrande. However, that isn't sufficient cause to demand the resignations of the board's chair and vice-chair. Catholic education stakeholders in Halton deserve to know what else has changed in the four months since this newly-elected board returned Bailey to the chair's position for a third consecutive term and chose LeMay to serve as its vice-chair for 2006-07. On multiple occasions Van de Vrande has publicly expressed his frustration regarding Bailey's insistence that the board revisit its own rules. With trustee support appearing to favour Van de Vrande by the slimmest of margins (54), could it be that he has decided unseating Bailey is the only way to silence him? Perhaps. In a schoolyard, this tactic might be interpreted as an act of bullying. But no matter what happens next, we think these trustees could benefit from a remedial course in conflict resolution.

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20 Apr 2007
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Opinion: Catholic Board Coup?