EXCLUSIVE: Calls for resignation of LBPSB chair Suanne Stein Day date back to at least December 2015
Since the beginning of the school year, the Lester B. Pearson School Board has been embroiled in an ethics scandal.
Now, another layer has been added to the scandal.
Global News has obtained an email that shows at least two commissioners want chair Suanne Stein Day to step down.
Questions about whether Stein Day should resign go back to at least last December.
On Dec. 13, 16 officials from the International Department sent a letter to school board commissioners.
In the letter, they accused Stein Day of making “slanderous and libelous remarks” against school board senior officials.
The author went on to say Stein Day was spreading false accusations that range from “misappropriation of funds and embezzlement,” and “participating in a fraud ring,” to claims that “respected members are participating in sexual affairs.”
On Dec. 23, 2015, Stein Day wrote an email to commissioners.
The email, obtained by Global News, shows that Stein Day was on the verge of resigning.
Stein Day seems to agree to step down but she backs down from her decision to quit.
“You’ve seen the letter from my attorney,” She said. “He advises me not to step down because of unsubstantiated allegations.”
“I did write that,” admitted Stein Day when Global News showed her the email.
“This was based on a letter of complaint that was received in the school board. I get complained about all the time, practically every week that goes by there is some sort of complaint. And there was a discussion about whether I should step aside while they are dealing with it and I decided not to,” Stein Day said.
“The letter itself contained a number of unsubstantiated claims,” Stein Day said.
“I can assure you one thing positively, I have the utmost respect for all of our administrators, always have.”
The Pearson Board’s ethics commissioner reports that one of its commissioners was guilty of breaching its code of ethics three times.
The commissioner has never been named.
Stein Day says the issue was dealt with internally and they’ve now moved on.
But a second e-mail dated Sept. 21, 2016, says Stein Day committed breaches of ethical standards.
In the e-mail, vice-chair of the board Noel Burke writes to his fellow commissioners based on the findings of the ethics report:
“Option 1: we are requesting that you step down as chairperson of the Lester B. Pearson School Board.”
The email went on to say that if Stein Day wasn’t willing to resign, the board would “strictly limit” her mandate.
She would only be allowed “to act as the official spokesperson for the board” and to “function as chair of the public council meetings.”
Commissioners wanted to take over powers from the chair including representation to external committees.
They also wanted to discuss how much commissioners should get paid.
Those two issues were discussed in secret last Monday but Stein Day is standing her ground.
“None of that is going to happen,” Stein Day said. “I can tell you there are a few commissioners that may feel that way, certainly not all of them. They know that by law they can’t do any of those things. I was duly elected and I did the best job I can.”
What’s more, the ethics commissioner forbid Pearson officials from speaking about the issue.
Global News contacted the ethics commissioner, but Vincent Guida refused to comment.
There’s another reason why it’s so difficult to get comment on this issue.
The education act says the chair is the official spokesman for the school board.
“It’s like a black cloud hanging over the Lester B. Pearson School Board right now,” Heidi Yetman, president of the Teacher’s Union said.
Yetman says secrecy is making teachers and staff lose trust in the board.
“To me if the school board wants to have a good face, they should open up the books, tell us what’s going on, stop the rumours and move on from there,” Yetman added.
Moving on might mean something different for the chair.
“When can we expect a resolution to all this?” Global News asked.
“I believe everything is resolved,” Stein Day responded.
“So is the public going to know anything about this?” Global News replied.
“No,” Stein Day said.
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.