Steve Jalsevac

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Toronto Catholic Board Passes 4 out of 8 parent demanded equity policy amendments - for now

Steve Jalsevac

TORONTO, June 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After a long and frustrating delay Thursday evening, the Toronto Catholic School board finally got down to debating and voting on proposed amendments to its controversial equity and inclusive education policy. Unfortunately the delay allowed for only 20 minutes of debate starting at 10:30 p.m. This resulted in only 4 out of the 8 proposed amendments being very briefly discussed and then passed by the board. For many parents, this was almost four hours after they arrived for the meeting.

The large contingent of Catholic ratepayers, one of the largest ever to attend a TDCSB board meeting, could not understand why the issue they came to hear was left to the very end of the meeting.

Teresa Pierre of the Ontario Catholic Parents Association wrote in her report to members today,  “Delay tactics were in play during the evening, and the Chair’s intention to give the least possible time for debate of the amendments was apparent from the moment the Chair (trustee Ann Andrachuk) refused to move the vote to the top of the agenda.  She was evidently not interested in accommodating the roughly one hundred and fifty to two hundred parents in attendance (larger even than the prior May meeting).”

Of the four passed amendments proposed by trustees Del Grande and Kennedy, three had been approved by board staff after review. The fourth had been opposed by staff and was only the first part of an original 7th amendment that was split in two parts for the vote. Pierre reports that the remaining four amendments, including 7 (b), all recommended against by board staff, will likely be brought up for discussion and a vote at a special board meeting on June 23.

There were six brief presentations given by pro-amendment parents and ratepayers. All were given enthusiastic applause by the parents and some even received standing ovations after their presentations.

Some of the presentations were summarized by Pierre as follows:
“Among them were parent Rachel Difonzo, (see video of her talk) urging the Board to adopt the amendments so as to protect faithful teachers and students from bullying. She also mentioned the TDSB “Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism” manual and urged the Trustees that the more Catholic our schools are the more they will be an alternative to TDSB parents.  From CPIC was Elio De Freitas showing that Catholic schools need to stand up for Catholic values and noting that these values were alive and well in the recent debates over same-sex marriage. 

Lou Iacobelli spoke on the responsibility trustees and board administrators have to protect Catholic education.  He noted that as educators and stewards of Catholic education they have no legal mandate to implement the Equity strategy without compliance to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Finally, I made remarks about the Constitutional protections for denominational schools in Ontario, making reference to a legal opinion on the amendments commissioned by the Ontario Catholic Parents’ Association and written by Michael Osborne, a partner at Affleck, Greene, McMurtry, LLP.

Lalit Lobo and Iola Fortino also gave presentations in favour of the amendments.

One parent, Kelly Ann Belton, from Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, spoke strongly in favour of the unamended board equity policy.

LifeSiteNews will present further reports on the meeting next week.

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