The chair of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), Angela Mancini, resigned from her position Wednesday morning.
In an exclusive statement to Global News, Mancini said she is leaving the board for personal reasons.
“Circumstances being what they are, I find myself having trusted a process that turned out to be an unfair one and questioning the reasons why this occurred,” Mancini wrote.
“I have been given many options that I could pursue but after some reflection, I find myself making a decision that will help me regain my inner peace. More importantly, a decision that will allow my family to regain their mom and their daughter.”
In spite of having called for Mancini’s resignation in the past, the board’s vice-chair Joe Ortona said he was surprised by her resignation.
“I view this now as an opportunity that I think council of commissioners –and really the whole EMSB– needs to embrace as a chance to turn the page from what’s been a long, dreadful saga,” Ortona told Global News.
Mancini’s resignation comes after a scathing report by an independent human resources company recommended Quebec’s Education Ministry prohibit Mancini and her supporters from running in future EMSB elections.
The report was commissioned by the EMSB’s trustee, Marlene Jennings, after Mancini had gone to her back in January with allegations she was a victim of harassment.
But the firm concluded that Mancini’s complaints were unfounded, even saying that “during the past four years, she has gone to great, and in some cases, never-ending lengths to hide, deny, misrepresent, pressure, manipulate, twist, alter and blame others for her own wrongdoings.”
Global News has obtained a redacted copy of the report’s conclusions and has only seen seven pages of the 273-page report.
Mancini responded by calling into question the conclusions. She alleges she did not receive a fair process, claiming there was “a lack of a proper investigation” by Steven Droz & Associates Inc., the authors behind the report.
Earlier this month, Steven Droz responded to Mancini’s statement in an email saying he had “no comment other to state that I stand by the investigative process and my report.”
Mancini served on the board for 22 years and called her tenure “a unique privilege.”
“Of late there are those who have put into question the integrity of my service, and my commitment to our community. That commitment has not wavered,” she said in her statement. “Over the years I have met all the challenges that were thrown my way, with resolve and determination to make the best decision. Regardless of my good intentions, I have made mistakes along the way. When it was possible I rectified my mistakes. I definitely learnt from them and took responsibility for them.”
The board is currently under the trusteeship of Jennings, a former Liberal MP.
She was appointed after the provincial government conducted an investigation into allegations of ethical violations, irregularities in the awarding of contracts, and infighting.
EMSB commissioner Julien Feldman said Mancini’s resignation “was a long time coming.”
“For many, many years, the prime objective of commissioners and the council was to contain her excesses and protect the administrators from her power,” Feldman said of Mancini.
Despite the conflicts, the board boasts major successes.
Commissioners say they’ve eliminated an $11-million deficit since 2007 and now run annual surpluses.
The board has recorded a 92.4 per cent graduation rate between 2011 and 2018 — the most successful graduation rate of all school boards in the province.
Mancini, says she leaves proud of her accomplishments.
She also works in Quebec’s health network and says she will dedicate herself to that job.
“Throughout the last few months, I have worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. This experience does not leave anyone unchanged. For me it has solidified my belief that it is important to live life to its fullest,” Mancini wrote. “More importantly, the last seven months has brought me back my inner peace. I am not willing to go back to a place where that will be disturbed.”
Given that the board is currently under trusteeship and there are only four months left until the board becomes a service centre, Jennings decided she would not fill Mancini’s position — by law, the vice chair, Joe Ortona takes over.
In spite of the trusteeship, EMSB commissioners still have the right to convene for legal matters, which include the battle in court against the province’s Bill 40, the bill that mandates school boards be replaced by service centres.
— With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise and Tim Sargeant