Public confronts head of Lester B. Pearson after ethics scandal

In a public meeting of the Lester B. Pearson School Board Monday night, chairman Suanne Stein Day acknowledged that she was the commissioner found guilty of breaching the board's code of ethics earlier this year.

Calls for Suanne Stein Day's resignation for breaching code of ethics

Lester B. Pearson Chair Suanne Stein Day said her actions were always in the best interest of the board. (CBC)

In a public meeting of the Lester B. Pearson School Board Monday night, its head, Suanne Stein Day, acknowledged that she was the commissioner found guilty of breaching the board's code of ethics.

At a council meeting in September it was revealed that a commissioner had breached the school board's code of ethics by not showing respectful behaviour to colleagues. Stein Day was not publicly identified at that time.

In the statement she read Monday night, she said the breaches of ethics identified by the ethics commissioner "were not criminal or immoral in any way."

"What I did I always did because I thought it was in the best interests of the board," Stein Day said.

Commissioner Noel Burke spoke after Stein Day, saying they now need to move forward as a team.

He added that the commissioners unanimously support Stein Day.

Taxpayers, parents speak

After hearing the remarks by the board, members of the public stood to speak directly to Stein Day about issues weighing on them.

Monday night's meeting was the first public Lester B. Pearson School Board meeting following news of Suanne Stein Day's ethics investigation. (Neil Herland/CBC)
A governing board member at Verdun Elementary School, John Ranger, said he didn't agree with Stein Day's opening statement.

"I just can't buy that something appeared on your shoulder 48 hours ago and told you that what you did what wrong," Ranger said.

He said he wants to see more accountability within the school board.

Former president of the Pearson teachers' union, Jim Wilson, accused the board of being complicit because members haven't denounced Stein Day.

"Silence in law is consent," Wilson said.

He said the board should be focusing more on morality rather than just legality.

"This board has lost its moral compass," he said.

Identifying himself as a taxpayer, Bob Dubois told the room it took "the biggest crisis in the board's history to get [me] here."

He called for Stein Day to resign over breaching the board's code of ethics.

Setting a good example for children

Teachers shared concern about transparency and how the interpersonal dynamics within the school board may be negatively impacting students.

Retired teacher Chris Eustace brought a sign that said 'resign' to the meeting and held it up as he spoke to Stein Day. (Neil Herland/CBC)
"Children don't hear what we say, they see what we do," said Mary Rutherford, a representative for Lester B. Pearson professionals.

Heidi Yetman represents the teachers in the school board and she hopes things will be more transparent in the future.

"We teach children of respect for self and others. And there's a dark cloud over the building," Yetman said.

Retired teacher Chris Eustace requested Stein Day pay back the money that was spent on her ethics investigation.

"You have wrecked this school board, wrecked this community, put a cloud on this community," Eustace said.

"And my biggest problem is that you have student commissioners here and you are teaching them the wrong thing."