WRDSB school board trustee barred from meetings says decision 'a way of silencing' him
Mike Ramsay wants report released so 'public can draw their own conclusions'
A Waterloo Region District School Board trustee says he's being silenced by fellow school board trustees because they don't like his opinions.
On Monday night, in a closed-door meeting, trustees voted 6-3 in favour of a motion that said Kitchener, Ont., trustee Mike Ramsay had violated the school board trustee code of conduct. He was censured and he will not be able to attend committee of the whole meetings until Sept. 30. Trustee elections are on Oct. 24.
In a statement on Twitter, Ramsay called the move a "political vendetta."
"I would also suggest that it is a way of silencing an opinion that they don't necessarily like," Ramsay said in an interview with CBC News Tuesday morning.
In a statement posted to the school board's website Tuesday, the trustees said they met in a closed session Monday evening to discuss a confidential report from the integrity commissioner. The report was based on a complaint filed in February that alleged Ramsay had breached the code of conduct.
The trustees did not describe the complaint or say who made it. The statement said that under the Education Act, the board is not allowed to release the integrity commissioner's report because it was "part of the private in-camera session."
Trustees noted the report from the integrity commissioner does not make recommendations. It's up to the board to decide whether the code of conduct has been breached and if so, what repercussions the trustee will face. The vote needed two-thirds support to pass, which it had.
In his statement on Twitter, Ramsay said the complaint is based on him "sharing information from journalists which the complainant considers demeaning and disparaging."
Dear parents, students and staff:<br>Here is my statement regarding the Code of Conduct Complaint that was filed against me.<br><br>⬇️ <a href="https://t.co/4XpPHFGde4">pic.twitter.com/4XpPHFGde4</a>—@_MikeRamsay
Scott Piatkowski, chair of the board of trustees, offered a one-line quote at the end of the statement about Monday night's decision.
"As public officials, school board trustees are duty bound to be accountable to the public and the WRDSB code of conduct is our tool to ensure public accountability," he said in the statement.
Barred trustee reviews options
Under the Education Act, a board member who has been found to have breached the board's code of conduct can be censured and barred from meetings "for the period of time specified by the board."
Ramsay was a trustee between 1989 and 1993, then elected again in 2000 and has served to now. He says he is reviewing his options and is looking into if he can release a copy of the complaint, his response and the commissioner's report — independently of the board.
"I have waived any confidentiality and have encouraged them to provide a report. Taxpayers paid for their report. Taxpayers are paying for the lawyer that's providing advice to them."
Releasing the report would "bring more clarity and to prevent rampant speculation as to what this is all about" and then "the public can draw their own conclusions," he said.
The Education Act says Ramsay has 14 days after he receives notice of the sanctions to make written statements to the board of trustees about it. Trustees then have 14 days after receiving his statement to "confirm or revoke" their decision.
Ramsay says he does not think they will change their mind.
"My six colleagues tend to advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity. When a Black person disagrees with them, they are quick to put me in my place. And that's what happened last night."
Piatkowski was asked by CBC News whether he wanted to respond to those comments by Ramsay. He declined.
"I will let the statement speak for the board of trustees," he said in an email.