Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals says the Toronto District School Board has "a lot of work to do" in less than a month to comply with recommendations called for in a scathing report that points to widespread problems in how Canada's largest school board is governed.
Speaking on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Friday, a day after the release of a report that highlighted widespread dysfunction among how the TDSB operates, Sandals said she won't hesitate to appoint a supervisor to step in if the trustees can't fix their own problems.
"They legally are entitled to the chance to turn it around," Sandals told host Matt Galloway. "I am doing what I can legally do at this point in time."
Released yesterday, the report by troubleshooter Margaret Wilson chronicled a "culture of fear" among TDSB staff. The report said trustees have over the years acquired powers that go well beyond their intended role.
The report pointed to cases where trustees interfered in the hiring of principals and other staff while running their wards like "fiefdoms." TDSB education director Donna Quan was also criticized in the report for resisting the release of details of her contact. There were also allegations TDSB staff had their phones and email communications monitored.
Quan has said the board will work to implement a list of 13 changes called for by Sandals and prompted by the report. The deadline for making the changes is Feb. 13.
TDSB trustees 'grew their own culture'
The changes include everything from closing the office trustees use at 5050 Yonge St. to accepting various controls in how money is spent.
Sandals said TDSB trustees "grew their own culture" over the years to create a "governance system that is totally broken and where the dysfunctionality is getting dangerously close to the schools."
To turn things around, Sandals called for the report and says she will enforce the four-week deadline to impose the recommendations that stem from it.
Galloway asked Sandals if she has confidence in the trustees' willingness to curtail their own powers and in Quan's ability to spearhead the changes.
Here's how she responded:
"I think that what we need to see is what evolves over the next four weeks and whether … they collectively as a group have the capacity to quickly turn themselves around. If they don't, then I have the legal ability to take further action."