York Region District School Board trustees decided to fill the position left vacant by the sudden resignation of Vaughan Trustee Anna DeBartolo through a byelection at a hastily called meeting last night.
Just one month after the swearing-in, the longtime trustee and former ousted chair of the board resigned Wednesday for personal reasons and is requesting privacy, according to a York Region District School Board news release.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we want to thank Anna for her years of service to public education,” board chair Corrie McBain said. “Trustees carefully considered the options and determined that holding a byelection would provide the residents of Vaughan with a fair process to democratically select their representative.”
Trustees voted 7 to 5 vote to hold the byelection, estimated to cost $177,000, rather than appoint the second-place candidate, Charline Grant, who garnered 2,161 votes to DeBartolo’s 4,437 votes in last October’s municipal election.
Grant, a Vaughan mother of three, filed a human rights complaint against the YRDSB in December 2016, alleging racial discrimination. Her election website states that she “became the face of the fight for equity in York Region, when she took on the school Board, to fight for her children who were facing racism and discrimination at the Board.” The case was settled about six months later when the school board issued an apology.
Twitter was quickly flooded with negative reaction to the decision.
Parent Flavio Volpe challenged the board's reasoning for not appointing Grant: The @YRDSB is once again the standard in public office gongshows. A disgraced ex-Chair resigns abruptly 1mth after being sworn in & Trustees vote to diverge from precedent of appointing the runner up. Why? Bc she’s the mom who publicly exposed its institutional bigotry in 2017.
Parent activist Todd Silverman of YRDSB Kids Need Help questioned the expense of the “frivolous” byelection and called on Premier Doug Ford to examine school board funding: So YRDSB is claiming the $175,000 won’t come out of the Board Budget. So to get this straight, they have a magical pot of money they can go to for frivolous by-elections, but still have buildings in need of desperate repair. Why can’t we fix wait lists for special needs too?
Clinical psychologist and health educator advisor Dr. Beverley Bouffard criticized the hasty decision and use of funding for the byelection: Speechless-& said they gave it thoughtful consideration? Not possible in that time frame. What time did the resignation come in? This meeting thrown in tonight at 5:45? Ppl were still stunned Spend $$ on #specialeducation & #autism training #yrdsb kids deserve better.
Former board chair Loralea Carruthers, elected as an East Gwillimbury councillor last October, questioned the trustees’ decision to break with the precedent of appointing a replacement: “The YRDSB has a long history of respecting the democratic process and appointing the runner up this close to an election. I don't know another board in the province that would not immediately appoint the runner up one month into the term. It's about public confidence.”
The City of Vaughan will initiate the byelection, the board said. More information, including timelines and polling locations, will be made available through the City of Vaughan. The board website will be updated as information becomes available.