Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Response from the Ministry of Education

Well it is official, the Ministry has NO power over school boards.   School boards are publicly funded institutions with absolutely NO watchdog.  You might join your schools' parents council, but parent councils have no "teeth"/ power, you could go to your school Trustees, but they claim to be held by Bill 177 therefore as you will see in the following letter who the sole power has been left with, for us here in Ottawa who are part of the public system it lies with only two people.

Since Ottawa Carleton District School Board is averaging 8- 13 years to review their policies that relate to child safety, I continue to have hope that the entire school board system could be change at the Ministry level quicker than fighting issues at the local level.  A 731.1 million dollar budget with 70,000 students and NO WATCH DOG in place for this school board or ANY school boards within Ontario.

Every complaint against a nurse is addressed by an independent committee, complaints against doctors, complaints against Police services, even inmates have a watchdog with the Ontario Ombudsman, where is a watchdog for our children ?  

Here is the response from the Minister of Education:

December 21, 2011

Thank you for your letter about criminal records checks for volunteers in some school boards in the Ottawa area.  I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Let me begin by assuring you that our government is committed to a safe school environment.  However, I would like to clarify the relationship between school boards and the Ministry of Education.  The role of the ministry is to determine the general directions and policies related to education for all of Ontario's publicly funded schools.   Although general policies are established by the Education Act, school boards, as legally constituted statutory corporations under the Act, are responsible for delivering programs and operating their schools by setting local policies and procedures.

While I appreciate being made aware of this matter, your concerns do fall under the jurisdiction of the local school board and should continue to be addressed at the local level.

I understand that an education officer from the Ottawa Regional Office was in contact with you in September and discussed your concerns at some length.   In addition to outlining the role of the ministry and that of boards, a number of potential courses of action were highlighted for you.  These courses of action included further discussion with school board staff, presentations to school councils and/or the board, as well as the option of obtaining legal advice.

I encourage you to continue your discussions with the Associate Director of Education, Superintendent Walter Piovesan, at 613-596-8211 extension 8252, or by email at water.piovesan@ocdsb.ca, or with the Director of Education, Dr. Jennifer Adams, at 613-596-8211 extension 8490, or by email at jennifer.adams@ocdsb.ca.

Thank you again for your valued input.

Yours truly,

Laurel Broten

(please contact me if you wish me to forward the official letter onto you.  @heathertwins - twitter )

Below is a LIST of Ontario  SCHOOL BOARDS -- see where your school board is listed :  


  1. Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue. I have raised the issue with the board previously also with no success. This should be a major issue right now with the board increasing reliance on community members to volunteer with extra curricular activities- but your concerns are still largely ignored.

    What I find even more troubling (as you have also raised) is the fact that there is absolutely no oversight from the Ministry of Education on this and so many other issue. Even the provincial ombudsman is prevented from investigating school boards.

    1. I am happy that my kids are now in a school board which has safer practices, more inline with the rest of the province and RCMP recommendations. I am no longer in OCDSB or the Ottawa catholic board which ALSO has a similar unsafe practice. I am just as determined to continue to push for changes to legislation but I am running out of people to talk to, email, phone...

      Yes I've sent a package to the Ombudsman but he is unable to help. I worry even more now with Bill 115 since more parents/ uncles/ aunts/ grandparents will be coaching and taking on more school activities and we have no real clear idea who they are. (Legal name, legal address, previous criminal history, etc.) I'm sure CAS - Children's Aid society will agree that parents & family are NOT always the best people to take care of children. Sadly even the most heinous of offenders are NOT prevented from starting a family. (Karla Homolka is an extreme example but still)

      Most areas in society these days do have this safe practice (Ottawa Humane Society, Hockey, Preschool co-operatives, churches) and most people realise the need for such measures. Too bad these school boards do not.