Inquiry not off limits

Gazette Vaudreuil-Soulanges

Letter to the Editor – July 9, 2014

Thank you for publishing the Gazette Vaudreuil-Soulanges articles LBPSB: Dissidents demand conflict of interest probe and Candidates: Inquiry needed to clear air. (July 2)
Those articles provide a clearer understanding of the questionable relationship between the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) and the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA) . That relationship has produced a conflict of interest of the chairperson of the LBPSB Suanne Stein Day (SSD), and her position as the one-time treasurer of the QFHSA.

That said, in the same Gazette issue, the editorial: Due process concludes with a question:

“Given the the public’s disengagement with the political process, wouldn’t it be best if the candidates agree the conflict-of interest cloud is off limits until the commissioner has ruled?
As a candidate for chair of the board at the upcoming school elections, and former staunch member of the QFHSA, and my 15-year involvement with the LBPSB, who has been prevented from asking questions at council, my answer is no.

However, prior to providing my rationale, two points require clarification:

1. SSD claims that this conflict-of-interest issue has come to the forefront now because it is “politically motivated.”

We must consider that this issue took root several years back. The first school board elections in seven years are being held this November. This matter, which has come to a head now, is purely coincidental.

2. SSD also suggests: “…some good people have been hurt…some people in home and school at every school, our parent volunteers.”

The conflict-of-interest issue is strictly Madame Stein Day’s doing. Furthermore, are we, the public, to pretend there is no conflict-of-interest issue? Are we to dismiss concerns about the lack of transparency because it will bother volunteers?

This entire mess was as predictable as it was avoidable.

This present conflict-of-interest matter became an issue in April 2011.

At the April 2011 Annual General Meeting of the QFHSA, a member of the QFHSA and former LBPSB commissioner Bart Sellitto raised concerns about outsider SSD, who was, it seemed, “asked” to become treasurer of the organization, and , by extension, be on the executive. As a volunteer, I also raised objections, but SSD, who was offered the option to recuse herself by the president of the Home and School, refused.

In the same week, under “Further Questions from the Public”, the minutes of the April 26, 2011, LBPSB Council meeting reflect my concern “ C. Eustace, Taxpayer : relationship between Lester B. Pearson School Board and Quebec Home and School Association…”

Realizing the potential deleterious effect this relationship could cause to the QFHSA and the LBPSB, I personally offered to pay $200 a month for a year for a treasurer to avoid this potential conflict by SSD, which would negatively affect both the board and Home and School policies.

I hope the Gazette continues reporting every aspect of this story, educating the public, which could cause the public to wonder which school’s governing board will be next to be disbanded by the Pearson board.
Chris Eustace