Hamilton school trustee violated conflict of interest act, parent says

Hamilton writer Mark Coakley filed an application in the Superior Court of Justice Friday seeking to remove Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustee Judith Bishop on conflict of interest allegations.

A Hamilton man is attempting to have a local school board trustee removed from office.

Hamilton writer Mark Coakley filed an application in the Superior Court of Justice Friday seeking to remove Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustee Judith Bishop from office on conflict of interest allegations.

Coakley says Bishop contravened the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act last April when she voted in favour of closing and selling Prince Phillip School in Ainslie Wood.

Instead, Bishop voted to spend funds refurbishing two schools in a neighbourhood in which she owns a home, Coakley says, and didn't declare any conflict of interest.

"By voting to shut Prince Philip against the unanimous recommendations of the public committee, instead of a school in her own neighbourhood, and by voting to spend the proceeds of that tragedy in her own immediate neighbourhood, Ms. Bishop did herself a financial favour," said Coakley in a news release. "That is unethical and illegal."

Bishop did not respond to repeated requests for comment. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Coakley's lawyer, Craig Burley, says that the potential penalty for speaking and voting on a matter before the Board of Trustees in which a trustee has a personal financial interest is removal from office and a ban of seven years.

"That is the remedy we are seeking, along with declarations that Ms. Bishop contravened the act and that the decision to close Prince Philip is therefore subject to being voided by the HWDSB," Burley said.