J. Philip Parappally has been fired as the director of education for the York Region District School Board a week after the release of a damning provincial report criticizing the governance and equity of the public institution.
The board issued a statement on Wednesday saying it is seeking a new director and that Associate Director of Education Leslie Johnstone has taken over Parapally’s role in the interim.
“We wish to acknowledge Mr. Parappally’s 17 years of service with our Board and wish him the very best on the next chapter of his life,” Board Chair Loralea Carruthers said in a media release.
“We look forward to getting back to serving parents and students with integrity and excellence in an environment that is frugal, transparent, and free of bias.”
Jaqci Testoni, a parent who had one of her two children bullied while they were in the York system, told Global News Parappally’s dismissal is a “breath of fresh air.”
“I think it stems from the root and he’s the root of the problem,” Testoni said. “At the end of the end day it comes from the top and flows to the bottom.”
READ MORE: Ontario government launches ‘urgent review’ of York school board amid racism allegations
Mitzie Hunter appointed two investigators to conduct an urgent review of the school board in January, after several parents raised concerns about incidents surrounding discrimination, racism and Islamophobia.
VIDEO: The report on the York Regional District School Board, which also found poor leadership and infighting amongst members, gives 26 recommendations for the board to improve transparency and accountability. Marianne Dimain reports.
In their report released last Tuesday, Patrick Case and Suzanne Herbert found many of the trustees failed to exhibit even a “basic understanding of their role and responsibilities as elected leaders.”
The investigators agreed with parents that some board members have shown a “disturbing lack of accountability” for the situation the board has found itself in.
Testoni said it’s time for the board to “clean house” and Parappally’s removal is a good first step.
“There needs to be a turn around,” she said. “I’m glad the ministry got involved.”
READ MORE: Parents demand resignation of York district school trustee for uttering racial slur
A list of 26 recommendations has been made to help address the issues and improve public confidence in the board.
The report comes after the board was involved in two incidents of racism and Islamophobia.
One involved a Markham principal who had shared anti-Islamic posts online and the other centred on Georgina school trustee Nancy Elgie, who used the N-word to refer to the mother of a black student.
Elgie resigned from the board several weeks after the incident.
-With a file from Briana Carnegie