EMSB chair Angela Mancini breaks silence on government investigations

Angela Mancini, who hasn't been seen at the English Montreal School Board offices for months, has not said anything about the probes by the Education Ministry and Treasury Board — until now.

Mancini explains she's been off on sick leave, says she'll co-operate with investigators

Angela Mancini, EMSB chair, says she will meet with government investigators 'shortly.' (CBC)

Angela Mancini says she is ready to shed some light on the allegations of financial irregularities and governance issues plaguing the English Montreal School Board.

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, chair of the board, has not commented on those investigations, which come just as the CAQ prepares to abolish all the province's school boards.

But on Friday, she was grilled by reporters during an event promoting students' physical literacy.

"As we stand right now, we are going to be going through a major investigation. I will participate in that investigation both on the administrative and the governance level," she said. 

Some EMSB commissioners say Mancini has not attended a school meeting since October. Mancini explained that she has been on sick leave and that she is back at work, but on a part-time basis.

She acknowledged that there have been some "issues" with governance, but did not give a direct answer when asked, twice, whether she was the right person to lead the board.

She was first elected as chair of the board in 2007.

Apology forthcoming?

Mancini was found guilty of four breaches of the EMSB's code of ethics last year, a fact that Education Minister Jean-François Roberge made reference to when he announced his investigation.

Seven ethics complaints were filed against her, and she was cleared of three. Mancini said she has been found not guilty of "anything to do with substance."

She was ordered to apologize for comments she made to Ann Marie Matheson and Benoît Duhême, the EMSB's director general and assistant director general, respectively.

When asked when she would apologize, she replied, "as soon as I am able to get back to a formal meeting, I will be able to do my job."

'You can't be in part-time,' vice-chair says

Joe Ortona, the EMSB's vice-chair, said he was unaware that Mancini has been on sick leave, and he was not impressed by her claim that she's back part-time.

"She's now been chairman for 11 years. She knows what the job is. She knows the time that it takes. She knows all these things. So you're either all in, or you're not. You can't be in part-time."

Joe Ortona, vice-chair at the EMSB, says being chair of the board isn't a three-day-a-week job, and Mancini knows that. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

He still believes Mancini should step down. Right now, there are no factions or alliances on council, he said.

"We get along better than ever — and that's with her exclusion," he said.

"If you demonstrate you can't work with the commissioners around the table, if you don't get along with the senior administrators, seems like you're unable to work with anyone, well, there's a common denominator there."

With files from Brian Lapuz