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York Catholic District School Board decides board chair via draw

Deadlocked vote leads to randomized process, board to seek police investigation after meeting misfire
A York Catholic District School Board staff member draws from a box to decide the next board chair for 2023/24.

York Catholic District School Board chose a new board chair by lot after deadlocked votes and a misfire that has prompted a request for a police investigation.

Aurora, King, Whitchurch-Stouffville trustee Elizabeth Crowe was put into the chair position Nov. 23, replacing Frank Alexander, who also vied for the role. Crowe won the position via a random draw, after two consecutive split votes of 5-5 among trustees between the two candidates. 

The situation came after a process error nullified a result for Crowe Nov. 21, requiring trustees redo their inaugural meeting two days later. That has prompted trustees to seek out a police investigation into what occurred.

“I thank everybody who was involved in this process,” Crowe said, adding that she will work alongside acclaimed vice-chair Maria Iafrate. “We will work hard together to serve our fellow trustees as chair and vice-chair of this board.”

The lot drawing is one method used in electoral systems to deal with ties. Under YCDSB policy, the method is used if a deadlock remains after two rounds of voting.  

But at first, it seemed like Crowe would be selected without the need for such a method. That was the outcome of an initial inaugural meeting for the school year Nov. 21, But the board had to redo the meeting, after board lawyer Gillian Tuck Kutarana said she made an error in counting the votes.

“I made an inadvertent error in calculating the votes that were cast,” she said. “I’m sorry for my role in making that more stressful than it had to be. It was my error and not anything the board of trustees were responsible for.” 

Trustees submitted votes via email. Director of education Domenic Scuglia said that after what occurred, the board has reviewed its policy on board chair election and taken steps to ensure that such an event cannot happen again.

However, after the chair election concluded, Alexander put forward a motion proposing the board chair write to York Regional Police requesting an investigation.

“Monday’s session was disturbing enough that it requires an investigation beyond the remarks from the former scrutineer,” he said, adding the investigation "should determine as to whether there was any malfeasance committed in the process.”

Trustees ultimately approved the resolution.

In a speech Nov. 1, Crowe said she is committing to serving her fellow trustees. She said they welcome an audit from the Ministry of Education, and she is committed to bringing forward a new equity plan.

“I will strive to ensure all trustees have the information they need to make strategic decisions during these difficult times that we face,” she said.