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Blistering report from Quebec government slams EMSB’s ‘dysfunctional’ governance

WATCH: Released on Friday, the report was commissioned in January by the Education Ministry. In it, the report blasts the EMSB for what it calls weak leadership and dysfunctional governance. As Global's Raquel Fletcher explains, the board could be placed under trusteeship.

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has “dysfunctional” governance and is unlikely to progress under its current management, according to a damning report issued by the Quebec government.

The findings were released on Friday following an inquiry ordered by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge to look into allegations of mismanagement at the board.

“It is a scathing report,” said Roberge at a news conference on Friday. “I didn’t think the problems with governance were that extensive, that there is such a significant level of dysfunction.”

READ MORE: EMSB announces legal action over transfer of schools to French board

A team of government investigators says the education ministry’s interventions have been repeatedly met with reluctance from the EMSB. The report states the inquiry itself also did not lead to “any noticeable change” at the board.

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“A poor understanding of the roles of commissioners and managers, the politicization of issues and the leadership gaps of the various actors involved in positions of responsibility have contributed to the establishment of dysfunctional governance,” the report states.

The report also claims the structure of the English-language school board and how it operates shows a lack of maturity. Investigators say “inadequate management of resources within the administration” has hindered the EMSB’s ability to be an efficient and effective organization.

“A lack of maturity at the EMSB is likely due to weak governance, which is reflected throughout the organization,” the report states.

WATCH: The EMSB was on the defensive Friday after the education ministry released a report criticizing how the board is managed. As Global’s Tim Sargeant explains, the EMSB wants to take time to read the report completely before taking any action.

EMSB on the defensive following scathing government report
EMSB on the defensive following scathing government report

READ MORE: Could CAQ education reforms spare English-language school boards?

The probe has led to a series of recommendations, including a major intervention at the school board. This could include placing the EMSB under trusteeship and stripping the council of commissioners of its powers.

Roberge says the province has not yet decided what steps are next for the school board — but he knows the government cannot continue to support what he describes as the “status quo” at the EMSB. He argued school board officials have put their political interests ahead of its students.

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Trusteeship has not been ruled out, he confirmed.

“It raises important questions for us,” he said.

EMSB waiting to hear from Roberge

On Friday afternoon, the EMSB responded publicly to the report, which comes a few days after the school board announced it is taking the province to court over whether the forced transfers of schools infringe on English-minority linguistic rights.

Mike Cohen, a spokesperson for the EMSB, says the council of commissioners learned of the report’s findings on Friday from the media.

“As far as what the report says, that is something that will be responded to politically when we have a chance to review the report,” he said. “It is unfortunate that this report did not land in the hands of our council first and that we had to learn about it from the media.”

WATCH: EMSB plans legal action over transfer of schools to French board

EMSB plans legal action over transfer of schools to French board
EMSB plans legal action over transfer of schools to French board

The school board is waiting to hear directly from Roberge, he added.

“We have to have some kind of instructions from the minister as to what they expect us to do about this report,” he said. “That hasn’t happened yet.”

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EMSB commissioner Julien Feldman told Global News the investigators report is “a bit exaggerated” and he was surprised by Roberge’s reaction to the findings.

“There is nothing new in this report,” he said.

⁠— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher and Tim Sargeant