Kingston members ‘unhappy’ with how Limestone school board chose new trustee

Click to play video: 'Kingston community members unhappy with how Limestone District School Board chose their new Trustee' Kingston community members unhappy with how Limestone District School Board chose their new Trustee
The Limestone District School Board has appointed a new trustee to fill the seat left vacant last month after the sudden death of David Jackson – May 30, 2018

Last month, the Limestone District School Board felt a tremendous loss after Trustee David Jackson’s sudden passing left an empty seat on the board. After the unfortunate news, the board decided not to fill his role until November.

According to the Education Act, after a trustee passes, a board has two options. Either they can hold a byelection or appoint a qualified person for the role. Due to time constraints, a byelection isn’t possible so the board decided to appoint a qualified person. Some parents and chairs of schools showed interest in the role. But they say they were not considered.

Christine Innocente is a school council co-chair at École Sir John A. Macdonald Public School and says, “There were several parents that were interested in filling the void temporarily — myself and at least a half a dozen other people, and I think any one of them [was] worth considering.”
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Some community members attended the last board meeting in mid-May where recommendations for the role were being reviewed. They told CKWS News that the trustees decided to go into a private session and asked them to step out for that portion of the meeting.

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They were told that a report would be released to summarize the discussion which continued at their next meeting this past Tuesday.

“There was no risen report, which was certainly expected so again, something happened in the private session before the public session tonight that precluded that. We are not aware of what that is and now we have discovered that they’ve replaced the vacancy with a former trustee,” says Innocente.

The board of trustees appointed former trustee Helen Chadwick to fill the vacancy.

Debrah Rantz, director of education with the Limestone District School Board, says “given the timeframe that needs a replacement trustee, really essentially September, October and November, they wanted to [go] with a former trustee, who was democratically elected by her constituents who could sort of hit the ground running.”

While Innocente says, “The fact that they chose not to engage the public at all, and not even to report back to the public, except to just name someone, it doesn’t smack of openness and transparency.”

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“There were a number of legal documents shared with the trustees, legal opinions on how best to pursue the filling of this vacancy, and when there are legal matters to discuss as I mentioned as well, names of individuals, so it is not appropriate for names to be discussed in public,” says Rantz.

Chadwick will be sworn in at their next board meeting in June and will serve until November, after which a new board will be elected at the next municipal election at the end of October this year.

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