C.W. Jefferys principal will be replaced but departure not connected to Jeremiah Perry's death, TDSB says
Monday Gala's transfer decided in May as part of 'regular transfer and placement of prinicipals,' board says
The principal who became the face of C. W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute after the death of student Jeremiah Perry on a canoe trip earlier this summer will not be returning to the school in September, CBC Toronto has learned.
When asked if the decision to transfer Monday Gala to another school had anything to do with the 15-year-old's death last month, Toronto District School Board (TDSB) spokesperson Shari Shwartz-Maltz said the move was actually made in May. The board later clarified that the decision was confirmed in early June.
It was part of the "regular transfer and placement of prinicipals," Shwartz-Maltz told CBC Toronto. However, the change on the TDSB's website was not made until the summer break and "the school community is usually notified right after," she said.
Gala, who was principal at C.W, Jefferys for five years, will move to Westview Centennial Secondary School, near Jane and Finch. Students from Westview were also on the canoe trip to Algonquin Park this summer. Gala will be replaced by Bernard Lee, former principal at Emery EdVance Secondary School.
Though they were briefly removed from the C. W. Jefferys website, the TDSB confirmed both vice principals, Gopal Devanabanda and Saraya Elwin, are staying at the high school.
Gala, who as a vice principal led a remarkable turnaround at C.W. Jefferys after 15-year-old Jordan Manners was fatally shot in one of the school's stairwells in 2007, spoke publicly after Jeremiah died July 4.
The veteran educator faced tough questions in the days after Jeremiah slipped below the surface of Big Trout Lake, specifically surrounding swim test protocol. The TDSB requires that all students pass a swim test in order to go on a canoe trip.
Jeremiah's family met with TDSB officials on Wednesday, including the director of education, John Malloy, to go over preliminary results of the investigation into the teenager's death. Those results were later announced at a news conference.
Half of students who took swim test failed
The investigation found that of the 30 students who took a swim test, 15 of them, including Jeremiah, did not pass.
According to TDSB policy found online, last dated 2008, the "principal shall make the decision to approve or not approve any excursion and/or participants" on every field trip. Gala was among those who approved the Algonquin trip but that doesn't mean he saw the results of the swim test that Jeremiah failed.
Any field trip that takes place outside the GTA, or involves high-risk activities must further be approved by the superintendent of education. Calls to the superintendent, Audley Salmon, and the school trustee, Tiffany Ford were referred back to the TDSB media line.
Speaking with CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Thursday, the TDSB's director of education, John Malloy, said the forms provided by organizers need to outline expectations and make "direct connections" to school board guidelines and procedures.
Malloy went on to say that the forms were signed by the organizers, or the teachers, "so of course the principal and superintendent would approve it based upon the insights and understanding of the organizers."
When pressed if that meant a superintendent had signed forms saying everything was good to go for the trip, Malloy answered: "absolutely correct."
2 teachers on home assignment
Two teachers involved with the program are on home assignment, and not currently speaking with investigators — something they have the legal right to do at this point, Malloy explained.
He reiterated what he said Wednesday, saying from now on, every principal will "actually see the test results" before signing off on a trip.
He added, that now "we ask the principal to approve the trip, but we don't expect at this point that they see the test results."
The board has retained a 'highly experienced and respected investigation firm' to review the incident which resulted in the death of Jeremiah.
With files from Lauren Pelley