'Far from a victory': Parent says after calling for trustee to resign

A byelection or an internal hiring process will take place in Sudbury, Ont. — if the resignation of a public school trustee is accepted by the Rainbow District School Board.

Tyler Campbell faced questions for planning soccer bubble that could be built on school property

Rainbow District School Board trustee Tyler Campbell announced his resignation last Friday. (Ontario School Trustees )

A byelection or an internal hiring process will take place in Sudbury, Ont. — if the resignation of a public school trustee is accepted by the Rainbow District School Board. 

Tyler Campbell announced his decision to step aside as trustee last Friday amidst conflict of interest allegations. 

Campbell is the city's director of leisure services, who is in charge of planning a soccer bubble for Sudbury. His position raised concerns because one of the places Campbell is considering to put the sports facility is at Lasalle Secondary School within the Rainbow board. 

"I certainly think it was the right decision," parent Chantal Gorham said about Campbell's departure as trustee. 

"If he wasn't able to make impartial decisions and he was working directly, yet indirectly, with the Rainbow board. That was certainly a conflict."

'Certainly a disappointment'

Gorham called for Campbell's resignation after receiving documents through a Freedom of Information request that suggested he was in a conflict of interest. 

Gorham originally asked for files to learn more about the board's business, as it is planning to close a number of schools.  

"This is far from a victory for me," Gorham said. 

"It's certainly a disappointment to myself and my community that put our trust in Tyler Campbell and the Rainbow school board as a whole."
Sudbury parent Chantelle Gorham called for trustee Tyler Campbell's resignation. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Campbell has not said if he is resigning because of an apparent conflict of interest.

Rather, Campbell announced he is stepping down as trustee because of growing demands from his city job, and because his position requires him to work with community partners in all sectors, according to a statement from the Rainbow board.

'Very serious questions'

Campbell did not return CBC's request for an interview to elaborate on his decision. 

"His stepping down shows to me the man has a lot of class," trustee Larry Killens said.

"There are some questions out there. They haven't been answered. There are some very serious questions. He shows his class and he steps down."

Campbell declared a conflict of interest with the board on soccer bubble discussions, which excludes him from speaking or voting on the matter. But it is unclear if he did the same in his capacity as a city manager.

In a statement from the city's community development manager, Catherine Matheson did not address whether Campbell declared a conflict of interest with the city. 

But Matheson said she respects and supports Campbell's decision to step aside as trustee.

"Tyler has worked at the city for just over five years and in that time has brought strong leadership skills to his roles," Matheson wrote.

"He is a valued member of our organization and we look forward to many more years of his service to our community."

Campbell 'will be missed'

Board chair Dorren Dewar said Campbell called her on Thursday night to tell her about his resignation. 

"I've enjoyed working with him and he's made a tremendous contribution to the board," Dewar said. "His expertise and his very real dedication to students will be missed."

Dewar added that the board has not made any financial commitment to a soccer bubble. 

"Staff have the authority to explore the possibility and that's it," she said.
Rainbow District School Board chair Doreen Dewar is praising trustee Tyler Campbell for his dedication and service to the education system. (Rainbow District School Board)

Cambrian College, Howard Armstrong Recreation Centre and the Countryside Arena are also being examined by the city as locations for the project.

The Sudbury District Soccer Club is pushing Countryside's proposal. Campbell's decision to step back from his trustee position is positive for all interested soccer bubble parties, according to the club's spokesperson Mike Graham. 

"It's confusing being in two positions, obviously, and having to deal with one issue," Graham said.

"Hopefully he [Campbell] can focus on his city job, which is hopefully to help us move this project forward."

Campbell's last school board meeting is scheduled for December 13. 

'Looking for transparency and honesty'

Trustees will have to decide how they want to fill his position by either announcing a byelection or putting a call out for applicants, which is similar to a job posting process where candidates are interviewed by trustees. 

"I would never recommend a byelection because of the cost," Dewar said. 

"However, the board will decide as a board which of the two options that the Education Act allows us, which one of those two will be followed."

Meanwhile, Gorham is worried that whoever takes over Campbell's position will not have the intimate knowledge needed to make a decision that is coming up about school closures. 

"What I am concerned about is someone being appointed to represent our community that may not have our best interests in mind," Gorham said.

"They may not be local, they may be a former employee of the Rainbow board. I don't know. But as far as we're concerned that just can't happen if they're looking for transparency and honesty."

The board began an accommodation review process this fall, and is recommending to consolidate eight schools. 

Gorham said she fears retribution from trustees who will be voting on what to do with her children's school in February. 

"I really believe that the Rainbow board has to make some hard decisions and leave us with our resources," Gorham said.

"Whether it's French immersion or our [Grade] 7 and 8's at Larchwood [Public School], so that there isn't any illusion of conflict."

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Senior reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a senior reporter for CBC's Parliamentary Bureau based in Ottawa. She previously worked in Toronto, Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter at @CBCOlivia. Story tips welcome: