Angela Mancini vows to stay on as EMSB chair
'I think that leadership means we don't leave the ship when the ship is taking on water,' she says
The embattled chair of the English Montreal School Board says the issues plaguing the organization aren't just about one person, and she won't be stepping down.
Angela Mancini defended her record in an interview on CBC Montreal's Daybreak Wednesday, saying she has forged partnerships both within the community and with private institutions.
And despite the fact at least two of her colleagues at the board have told her directly that they want to see her step down, Mancini said she is staying put.
"I think that leadership means we don't leave the ship when the ship is taking on water," she said.
The provincial government recently announced two separate investigations into issues at the EMSB — the Education Ministry and Treasury Board are looking into irregularities in awarding contracts, and the Education Ministry is also looking into problems related to the workplace environment.
Mancini said she is still waiting to be briefed on what, exactly, is being investigated, since an auditor appointed by the Liberal government in 2016 never notified the board of any red flags.
As for the workplace issues, Mancini said, they are longstanding and involve different people.
However, at least some of those issues directly concern her.
The EMSB's director general, Ann Marie Matheson, filed seven ethics complaints against the board's chair last year. Mancini was found guilty of four.
Mancini said she didn't want to talk about Matheson, but they "have a professional relationship."
Mancini said she does not believe the issues at the EMSB are contributing to the government's case for its plan to abolish school boards.
Boards are "vital to our communities," she said, and ... "still the most effective level of government."
Commissioners have 'lost focus': Mancini
Until Monday, Mancini hadn't attended a board meeting since October. Board commissioners said they had no idea where she was.
She now says she has been on sick leave and did not say so because she didn't want the media to hound her. She said she received clearance to return to work last week.
Last Monday's board meeting was a tense affair, with commissioner after commissioner reading Mancini the riot act.
It ended with a majority of commissioners voting to slash Mancini's annual salary from $38,000 to $10,000.
She said that was "absolutely not fair," and she is concerned the council has "lost its focus."
"In the middle of religious symbols, the ministers transferring buildings from English to French boards and the possibility of the elimination of school boards that are vital to the vitality of the English community, at 6000 Fielding, we are worried about when and if I told people I was on an actual medical leave," she said, referring to the address of the EMSB headquarters.
Mancini said following the meeting Monday that she is hoping the board will be able to move forward and address the challenges ahead, and she will do her part to change the level of discourse.
With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak