Limestone District School Board trustee censured

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Limestone School Board Trustee Robin Hutcheon was censured and sanctioned for violating code of conduct – Nov 15, 2019

Editors note: This story originally stated that Suzanne Ruttan said Robin Hutcheon directly spoke to a member at a school, which prompted her censure, but Ruttan in fact never said that. It is currently unclear what Hutcheon did to receive a censure.

The Limestone District School Board has censured one of its trustees for allegedly breaching the board’s code of conduct.

It’s unclear what exactly the board believed Robin Hutcheon, who represents the Townships of Loyalist and Stone Mills, did, since her censure was discussed in a private session, and since the board chair, Suzanne Ruttan, would not divulge the information.

READ MORE: Group of trustee candidates run against Limestone District School Board’s alleged lack of transparency

Ruttan did say Hutcheon stepped over the line by taking a constituent’s complaint and getting involved in a school’s operations.

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“Trustee Hutcheon got involved in a matter beyond the governance role,” Ruttan said. “We are governors, we’re not education experts.”

According to the school board, Hutcheon broke four sections of the board’s code of conduct.

Click to play video: 'School Board trustee trying to address complaints about transparency' School Board trustee trying to address complaints about transparency
School Board trustee trying to address complaints about transparency – Sep 7, 2018

She reportedly did not:

  • “maintain the highest standards of civility and respect accorded to public office through the absence of unwarranted criticism of fellow board members, the board, or employees, in or out of the board room.”
  • “respect and understand the roles and duties of the individual trustees, board of trustees, the director of education and the chair of the board.”
  • “recognize that authority over the organization is only vested in the full board when it meets in legal session.”

The board also said Hutcheon did not follow the Education Act by overstepping her role as a governor.

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On Nov. 13, the school board’s Twitter account announced that Hutcheon will have to write a letter of apology to “the principal,” but did not specify which principal it was.

Ruttan said Hutcheon will have to submit that letter to the board for approval.

“What we want to do is receive the letter to make sure that it is the apology letter. We just don’t know what the content will be,” Ruttan said.

The chair of the board also told Global News on Friday that the principal who will be receiving the letter works at a school in Hutcheon’s region, but she could not divulge any information about the principal, since it might violate the privacy rights of any students or parents involved.

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READ MORE: New faces help make up Limestone District School Board

Ruttan noted that they found out about the alleged breach from Hutcheon herself.

Despite numerous calls and emails, Hutcheon has not responded to any requests for comments from Global News.

Note that it is board policy that only the board chair — that is Ruttan — is able to speak to the media.

It is also important to note that during the last municipal election, Hutcheon was one of several people who ran under the banner #TRUSTee, a group that called for the Limestone District School Board to be more transparent in their dealings.

READ MORE: Censured school-board trustee speaks out against board’s alleged lack of transparency

The group was spurred in part by the censuring of former trustee Tom Mahoney, who ultimately left the board after being banned from attending any board meetings and interacting with any school staff.

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