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Apology and a Reflection

I would like to wholeheartedly and unreservedly apologize to our ECSD Legal Counsel Carole Karbonik for the disrespectful remark that I made at our Public Board meeting held March 21st, 2017. Carole is a professional who is following orders, like any other district employee, and she deserves to be respected at a public board meeting and it is the Superintendent and the board who should be held accountable, not our staff. I’ve blogged before about how I believe she is put in a terribly awkward position in her role by our organizational chart  and I should have been mindful of this when I made my remarks. My issue is with our process, not with her and I regret my remark.

 

I intend to apologize to Ms. Karbonik at the next public board meeting and I regret that I was not contacted by Janet French to apologize after the meeting before her article came out.

I’ve been praying for our Superintendent, and our Board of Trustees and asking for guidance on how we can move forward in a way that models the love of Christ. There are so many committed and wonderful staff in our district who need strong leadership from the board that is honest, transparent, inclusive, democratic, and courageous.

The tensions at the board table have been taking a great toll on me and I increasingly am doubting whether or not I should seek another term. I was frustrated like Trustees Acheson and Bergstra (https://marilynbergstra.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/new-world-order/) where certain trustees on the board have been using Roberts Rules to shut down debate before it even starts. I find this action anti-democratic and denies our constituents the opportunity to hear an issue, regardless of the decision. Why do we even have school boards then?

I believe that this all goes back to my advocacy for our sexual and gender minority students, staff and families. In February one of my colleagues took such an issue with my protection of LGBTQ rights that they threatened me in an email with sanction and alluded to my removal. Because much of the bullying I have experienced happens behind closed doors (as with so much of our business sadly) if I were to reveal more I would be censured, but I think the email below, much like the letters attempting to silence Dr. Wells, speaks for itself. My colleagues may be politically astute enough to know the political dangers of censoring me for supporting gay marriage on my personal twitter account and how that sort of overt attack on human rights could call the entirety of publicly funded catholic education into question.

I’m praying for strength and patience. I just want to get back to talking about education matters and how we can discuss important issues like collaborating with community partners, getting new school spaces, and saving money in this tough budget climate. (https://grellblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/cooperation-is-the-foundation-of-the-future-of-catholic-education-in-alberta/)

Whether I seek re-election or not, I remain dedicated to standing up for social justice in Christ’s example and loving my gay and lesbian neighbours as myself. I am willing to leave other matters such as the superintendents contract or getting to the bottom of why the ACSTA and catholic superintendents are targeting an Academic at the U of A but I will never be silent when it comes to human rights and equal marriage and the love that we must model for our most vulnerable youth. My faith demands nothing less of me.

Here is an email that I received from one of my colleagues February 19th:

From: XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sent: Sunday, February 19, 2017 7:28 PM

To: Grell, Patricia <Patricia.Grell@ecsd.net>

Subject: Retweet of support of gay marriage

 

Dear Trustee Grell,

As per our Organizational Bylaw 13.2(a) this is to notify you of “first contact.”   This pertains to the retweet of your support of gay marriage as attached.

It is my intent to bring this to the attention of the Board  Chair as per Organizational Bylaw  13.2(b) that you are in violation of duties as a Catholic School Trustee (public representative of the Catholic Church) as you are  openly defying teachings of The Catholic Church regarding gay marriage.  Therefore I will be asking the Chair to start the sanction and censure process.

Patricia, it goes without saying, that I am most disappointed in you.  I wish you would keep your personal opinions to yourself until you step down as Catholic school trustee or are removed as a Catholic school trustee.  

I am open to discussing this with you.

Sincerely,

Trustee XXXXXXXXXXXX

 

 

 

 

 

 

I

CAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS OFFER CATHOLIC PROGRAMMING?

Go to Alberta Counsel Newsletter Issue 28_5 for a discussion of EPSB Trustee Michael Janz’s suggestion that public schools offer Catholic alternative programming.  I wrote the piece in collaboration with my co-worker at Alberta Counsel Ed Picard. Happy reading!

March 21, 2017 Public Board Meeting and ACSTA Transparency Motion

I have just learned that the agenda for the Tuesday, March 21, 2017 public board meeting was not posted on the ECSD website on Friday, March 17, 2017 and still is not posted.  Usually the practice is for the Board Secretary to post the agenda on the Friday before the Tuesday Board meeting to give the public and the media some idea of what the Board plans to discuss.

I have also just discovered that my motion requesting more transparency from ACSTA has been designated as an in camera item.  I am unsure why — the Chair has not contacted me to inform me of this and Trustee Bergstra, Vice Chair of the Board told me this afternoon that she was unaware of any concerns with my motion.  It is rather ironic that a motion dealing with transparency is being dealt with as an in camera item. I will be addressing these issues at the Tuesday public board meeting.

Here is the link to the copy of my motion as I found it in my Board package:  ACSTA Transparency

Motion: ACSTA Consultation Process

I was going to bring forward a motion to the March 21, 2017 ECSD Public Board however I received some clarifications to my questions from ACSTA President Adriana LaGrange which you can find in italics next to the questions posed.  I will however be bringing forward the following updated motion based upon the answers I received from President LaGrange:

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association is an association comprising of democratically elected trustees from across Alberta, the Yukon and the NWT. It is an Association which is funded by membership fees from 24 Boards: 18 Alberta Catholic Boards, 4 Alberta Francophone Boards, 1 Yukon and 1 NWT. Edmonton Catholic School District paid $154,801.66 in membership fees to ACSTA in 2016 and will be paying $164,023.21 in membership fees in 2017. In 2017, the ACSTA will receive a total of $786,246.32 in membership fees to operate — all of which will come from per student education grants from provincial and territorial governments funded by tax payers.

Given that the ACSTA is a tax payer funded organization that represents 24 Boards and over 100 trustees, I was very concerned to read then, in a March 10, 2017 edition of the Edmonton Journal that the ACSTA wrote a letter of complaint on September 16, 2017 against Dr. Kris Wells of iSMS to the Douglas R. Stollery, Chancellor of the Senate, University of Alberta.  I was concerned and surprised because this was the first time I heard of any issue from the ACSTA with Dr. Wells’ comments.   I was also concerned because I had no opportunity as a democratically elected trustee to speak to the issue.  Had I been able to, I could have offered some insights into it and prevented what has now become a media storm.

As I made inquiries with our Board of Directors representative on the ACSTA, Larry Kowalczyk, I learned that he failed to inform our Board of the issue between September 9, 2016 and March 10, 2017 when the information was released to the public.  He apologized for this oversight and I have accepted it.

I learned from a highly constructive conversation with President Adriana LaGrange that after coming out of camera on September 9, 2016, the ACSTA Board of Directors neglected to list the action item of writing to various representatives at the U of A.  This is the usual practice for Boards – no decisions are made in camera, only discussions occur in camera.  I believe it is important for our Board to remind the ACSTA that in the interest of transparency, action items should be listed after coming out of in camera discussions.  (If you go to the September 9, 2016 minutes you will note that another in camera discussion item that led to an action was listed however the one to write the letters to the U of A was not).

I believe that some clarification is also necessary on the part of the ACSTA to remind their Board of Directors that the Bourinot Rules of Order allow for in camera discussions to be shared with their Boards.  President Adriana LaGrange assured me that this was the case with the Bourinot Rules of Order.

I also learned that any additional documents in the Board of Directors’ packages are attached to their agendas not to their ratified minutes.  I believe that any documents referred to in the ratified online minutes should be attached to them so trustees and the public can better understand what is being discussed.  In the November 18, 2016 minutes, there is a motion made by Ron Schreiber to request that ACSTA respond to the October 28, 2016, letter from University of Alberta President, David Turpin.  The letter that sent to President Turpin and the letter back from him are not attached to the minutes making it very difficult to understand what Trustee Schreiber is referring to.

I would also suggest that when the ACSTA makes mention of an issue in their minutes, they do so in a more transparent fashion to allow trustees and the public to understand clearly what is being addressed.  For example, the letter to and from President Turpin as referred to in the November 18, 2016 minutes could have referred to inviting him to an ACSTA event.

So in the interest of transparency, I request the following:

That the ECSD Board of Trustees write a letter by April 21, 2016 to the ACSTA and request that in the interest of transparency they make the following changes in their governance process:

  1. When the Board of Directors meets to deal with an in camera item, that that in camera item be brought back from the Board Director to their respective Boards for discussion and input
  2. when the Board of Directors meets in camera, they are permitted by the Bourinot Rules of  Order to share their discussion with their Boards
  3. when the Board of Directors meets in camera, that when they come out of camera, they list their action items in their minutes
  4. when the Board of Directors makes reference to  any documents in their minutes, that they attach those documents to their ratified minutes
  5. when the Board of Directors makes reference to an issue in their minutes, that they do so in a manner such that trustee members and the public can understand what is being referred to
  6. that the ACSTA President and Vice President speak to their Board of Directors and remind them that they are representatives of their respective Boards and therefore have a duty to inform their Boards of ACSTA conversations, legal expenditures, legal actions, activities, concerns, etc.

 

 

Previous Motion for March 21, 2017 (please see answers to my questions in italics)

To: Board of Trustees

From: Patricia Grell, Trustee

Re: ACSTA Consultation Process

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association is an association comprising of democratically elected trustees from across Alberta, the Yukon and the NWT. It is an Association which is funded by membership fees from 24 Boards: 18 Alberta Catholic Boards, 4 Alberta Francophone Boards, 1 Yukon and 1 NWT. Edmonton Catholic School District paid $154,801.66 in membership fees to ACSTA in 2016 and will be paying $164,023.21 in membership fees in 2017. In 2017, the ACSTA will receive a total of $786,246.32 in membership fees to operate — all of which will come from per student education grants from provincial and territorial governments funded by tax payers.

I was very concerned to read then, in a March 10, 2017 edition of the Edmonton Journal that the ACSTA wrote a letter of complaint on September 16, 2017 against Dr. Kris Wells of iSMS to the Douglas R. Stollery, Chancellor of the Senate, University of Alberta.  I was concerned and surprised because this was the first time I heard of any issue from the ACSTA with Dr. Wells’ comments.   had never heard  claiming to speak on behalf of ACSTA and “the member school boards we represent”.   As a democratically elected trustee on a Board that is a paying member in good standing with ACSTA, I am concerned that this letter was sent out without any consultation and deliberation from ACSTA’s member Boards’ representatives. The ECSD representative on the ACSTA Board of Directors is Trustee Larry Kowalczy.  He told me today that he first learned of the letter at a Board of Directors’ meeting during the November 18 – 20, 2016 ACSTA AGM.  He attempted to speak to the letter at an ECSD Governance and Priorities meeting after the AGM however the Board ran out of time, the item not mentioned and then got missed on future Board agendas.  It is unfortunate that no Catholic trustee at least was cced on it. Nor was information about this letter raised to the general membership at the November 2016 ACSTA AGM.

Because we as trustees are democratically elected and our Catholic Association is tax payer funded, I move the following:

That the ECSD Board request by April 21, 2017 that the ACSTA Chair, Vice Chair and Board of Directors answer the following questions:

  1. Who made the decision to send this letter of complaint against Dr. Wells? The Board of Directors which met on September 9, 2016.  Please go to the minutes of this meeting here.
  2. What role did the Edmonton Archdiocese and/or Alberta bishops play in sending this letter? The Archdiocese did not play a role in raising the issue over Dr. Wells.  The Council of Catholic Superintendents of Alberta communicated to ACSTA President LaGrange that they were going to write a letter to the U of A regarding Dr. Wells and wanted ACSTA to do the same.  
  3. Why did President Adriana LaGrange write that she was representing the ACSTA member school boards when none of the Boards representatives were consulted? The Board Directors were consulted at a  Sept. 9, 2016 meeting and together they made a decision to write a letter to the Chancellor.  They neglected to put their action item in their September 9, 2016 minutes after they came out of camera even though another action item was listed.  
  4. Why did the ACSTA not raise their concerns regarding Dr. Wells or inform their membership of their complaint letter at the November 2016 AGM? The minutes were distributed at their November 18, 2016 Board of Directors’ meeting with the letters sent to the U of A attached to their agendas.  These letters unfortunately were not attached to the ratified online minutes of Sept. 9 or Nov. 18, 2016 to ensure trustees understood the actions the ACSTA were taking.  The ACSTA did not raise the issue at the November AGM because they believed that their Board of Directors was taking the information back to their respective Boards and sharing it.  This was not the case with our Board of Director Larry Kowalczyk.  He did not share any of this information until I phoned him after reading the March 10, 2017 story in the Edmonton Journal.  I have met another trustee on a Catholic Board who stated that their Board Representative also failed to share this information with them.  I am unsure how many other Catholic trustees experienced the same lack of communication from their Board of Directors representative.
  5. Why did the ACSTA choose not to use the resolution mechanism available to it to ensure that the letter truly reflected support from the “member boards”? The ACSTA Board of Directors wished to move quickly on addressing their issues with Dr. Wells.  Using a resolution mechanism would have delayed their action of writing the letter to the U of A.  The ACSTA could have asked their Board of Directors representatives to go back to their respective Boards to inform and consult them to see what action the trustees wished them to take on such a serious public issue.  Had they taken the time to do this, trustees would have been informed of the actions ACSTA wished to take and could have offered their input.  The ACSTA’s decision to act quickly and without proper consultation with trustees has led to a media storm.  

Legal Opinion from Don Cranston, QC re: Possible Conflict of Interest

As a democratically elected official for Ward 71 I feel I owe my constituents an explanation for my comments and actions at the January 27, 2017 public Board meeting at which the Board was voting on renewing the contract of Superintendent Joan Carr.  When I first commented at the January 27, 2017 public Board meeting that I thought Trustee Kowalczyk could be in a conflict of interest, I did so after having spoken to the Ethics Commissioner.  The Ethics Commissioner told me the previous day that according to the ECSD Bylaw 11 (bylaws0001)  Trustee Kowalczyk could be in a conflict of interest.  When the media attempted to verify what I heard from the EC, the EC refused to comment.  I therefore asked for a legal opinion from donald-cranston-legal.  If you read through Counsel Cranston’s opinion you will see that he comes to the same conclusions as the Ethics Commissioner.  No, Trustee Kowalczyk did not break any laws according to the School Act but he possibly could have been in a conflict of interest according to the Board’s Bylaws. The Board’s Bylaws are attempting to protect the Board from any non – pecuniary conflicts of interest that are not covered by the School Act.  These Bylaws are not contrary to the School Act but supplementary.  ECSD Counsel Karbonik at the Jan. 27, 2017 public board meeting stated that our Bylaws were contrary to the School Act so she dismissed them.  Our Bylaws reiterate the School Act in regards to pecuniary conflicts of interest and supplement the School Act by addressing non-pecuniary conflicts of interest.  I can understand that it might be difficult to make a legal ruling on your boss’s contract ( organizational-chart ) so that is why I asked the Board in the in camera portion of the Jan. 27, 2017 public board meeting to seek a second opinion.  The Board chose not to do so. This afternoon I was confronted with a reprimand at the public Board meeting (thiberts-reprimand) by our Board Chair stating that I was in breach of our policies.  I would suggest that Chair Thibert’s public reprimand this afternoon was ironically in breach of our policies.  According to our Bylaws, if “A Trustee who has reasonable grounds to believe that a fellow Trustee is in violation of the above duty must respect the principle of `first contact`, which means that the Trustee who has the concern has a responsibility to express the concern to the Trustee believed to be in violation.” (cf. sanctions-and-censure-bylaws ).  I did not receive a call or an email from the Chair prior to today’s meeting stating that she had concerns around my behaviour.  I inadvertently learned on Saturday, Feb. 25th that she had concerns around my behaviour after the Jan. 27th meeting only because I contacted her.  I did not know what her specific concerns were until today.  The Board does not have a Bylaw that suggests that if a trustee has a problem with another trustee’s conduct they are to reprimand them at a public board meeting.  So I find it quite ironic that in the Chair’s statement she speaks of addressing breaches to our policies.  Perhaps the Board should look at it’s own breach of its Bylaw 11 and then proceed to Bylaw 13.

I think Paula Simons should have the last word in this case as she had the last time when I was called out for acting according to my conscience.

Cooperation is the Foundation of the Future of Catholic Education in Alberta

Recently, Paula Simons wrote in the Edmonton Journal:  “It is undoubtedly maddening when Catholic and public boards across Alberta routinely refuse to cooperate on things like school construction or busing.  How hard would it be, for people elected to serve children and families, to put turf wars aside and collaborate sensibly?”

I couldn’t agree more, and I want to make it clear that Catholic Education is an eager and willing partner in finding ways where Alberta’s parallel school systems can work together to improve educational outcomes for all our students.

Currently, ECSD is working on a partnership with EPSB to share the operation and costs associated with busing.  EPSB and ECSD have established a joint Edmonton Student Transportation Authority or ESTA which will significantly reduce the costs of busing and lower ride times. EPSB and ECSD have agreed to establish ESTA because a preliminary study in 2014 revealed that more than a $2.5 million/year would be saved with this collaborative effort and ride times would be reduced significantly.  I commend our administration for continuing to work on this partnership with EPSB so that our students get the best possible transportation service we can offer.  We are following the example of Parkland Public and Evergreen Catholic school boards which already share busing.

What other administrative areas can we consider to find further efficiencies? The Alberta Catholic Schools Trustee Association in their document Catholic School Facilities in Alberta Fundamental Principles, Process and Guidelines has listed many areas of school operation where collaboration would not be considered a challenge to  Catholic identity. It states:

Community Partnerships with other Catholic and Public Boards Partnerships can mean more than sharing physical space. There are many ways that the Catholic school community can benefit from partnerships that do not include actual sharing of a building. Where fiscally beneficial, sharing among divisions with Catholic schools [sic] could include: 

  • Curriculum development and resources
  • Purchasing cooperatives
  • Centralized computer services
  • Waste management Accepted by Board of Directors on February 12, 2016
  • Capital construction design
  • Professional development services and consultants
  • Personnel for specialized courses
  • O, H and S (Occupational Health and Safety)
  • Technology Services/Web Consulting
  • Payroll
  • Courier services

 This list is not exhaustive and Catholic school divisions should continue to explore areas and services where sharing can be achieved. Where no savings are gained or inefficiencies of time and level of services are lost the purpose and value of cooperating is lost as well. Partnerships with public boards and Catholic boards can be beneficial and not inhibit the goal of Catholic education and could include:

  • Transportation
  • Software licensing
  • Bulk Purchasing
  • Courier services
  • Sports leagues

I commend the ACSTA which has wisely suggested these various opportunities for partnerships between Catholic and Public schools.  These partnerships certainly have the potential to free up education dollars to be put into the classroom where they are most needed.  Minister Eggen has recently stated that “especially in tough economic times, we must all be careful with the public dollars we are entrusted with”.  He goes on to say that he wants to see “every public dollar that we provide for education…be spent on supporting our students and preparing them for success”.  I believe the time is ripe for our Board to consider the ACSTA recommendations. We need to ask ourselves what other ways besides transportation we can find efficiencies.

Though the ACSTA strongly oppose the sharing of facilities with non-Catholic entities, there are examples around Alberta where these shared facilities exist. In Sylvan Lake there is a partnership between the Catholic and Public school boards:  Fox Run Public School and Ecole Mother Teresa exist under one roof.   In 2004 a new Catholic school called St. Marguerite Bourgeoys opened in the same facility as John Wilson School in Innisfail, AB.  John Wilson School was once the largest public elementary school in Alberta with 800 students.  The story of how this Catholic school within a public school came to be, is an interesting one.  Bill Hoppins former principal of John Wilson School shared in a Western Catholic Reporter article that the Sisters of Notre Dame (namely Sister Anna Cordeau), “tried as much as possible in a public school system to share our Catholicity and our belief in Christ, in an appropriate way.” Grade 5 students were then eventually offered a religious education with an ecumenical approach. Further concessions were made within John Wilson Public School to allow Catholic students to learn their catechism after the bell rang at 3:30 pm.  Eventually a small portion of John Wilson School was leased out to begin the Catholic school.  Opening in 2004 with 85 students, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School now educates students from Pre-K to Grade 9.

From a perusal of the Marguerite Bourgeoys’ February 2017 school newsletter permeation of Catholic identity is alive and well.  In their latest newsletter you will read about the religious origins of Valentine’s Day and see announcements for upcoming First Reconciliation and Communion classes as well as Confirmation classes.  The school calendar included in the newsletter, ensures that their students are aware of Ash Wednesday, the First Sunday of Lent, World Day of Prayer, Faith PD Day, and when the Grade 6 Stations of the Cross will take place.   So the concern that such public – Catholic facilities could lead to a weakening of Catholic identity doesn’t seem to hold true.

Soon after the Catholic – Public schools of Innisfail and Sylvan Lake opened, the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association made a new policy to discourage such partnerships in their “Fundamental Principles”.  Briefly, the policy states that

The ACSTA and its member boards oppose the joint use of school buildings with public school boards in any manner that has the effect of undermining or interrupting the full permeation of Catholic values and beliefs.

I recommend that the ECSD Board of Trustees request that the ACSTA study the Innisfail and Sylvan Lake examples of public –  Catholic partnerships and see if indeed after thirteen years the quality of Catholic identity is significantly different and less authentic in these schools compared to free standing Catholic Schools elsewhere in the province.

In recent weeks I have come to learn of many other Catholic- public partnerships around the province. In a Feb. 7, 2017 Edmonton Sun article, Janet French reports that

“The Nisku-based Black Gold School Division runs Roman Catholic religion classes as an option at five of its schools in Beaumont, said superintendent Norman Yanitski. The classes have been running for more than 20 years, he said.”

St. Paul Regional School Board and Conseil Scolaire Centre Nord are examples of shared Catholic – public Francophone school boards that exist in the province.  As well, I have learned that Rocky View Public and Fort Vermillion Public School Boards administer Catholic schools under their umbrella.  These are the many ways Albertans have used their creativity and innovation to provide Catholic schools and Catholic programming in partnership with public school boards across the province.

It seems to me then, that if ECSD has an opportunity in an area of the city to keep a Catholic presence available to Catholic students by sharing a facility with EPSB which is also suffering from lack of students, a shared approach seems feasible.  I am thinking specifically of the South East area of the city where in 2015 our administration recommended that we close 4 aging Catholic schools.  This is an area where Edmonton Public has had to close several schools (e.g. Gold Bar public elementary).  St. Gabriel elementary school which is closely associated with St. Michael Resurrection Parish narrowly missed being closed in the 2015 round of closures.  Our administration recommended closure because of the decreasing student population as well as the significant infrastructure dollars required to keep the school up to code.  If this school were to close, the connection between school, parish and home would be lost and only St. Brendan school would remain as a Catholic school presence in the whole South East portion of the city.  Certainly we should be able to find ways we can work with Edmonton Public to continue offering Catholic programming in our communities, keeping schools open, reducing yellow bus ride times, and reducing costs for both Boards.

In conclusion, I believe that we should explore with the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association ways in which we can show Albertans that as Catholics we are aware of our province’s fiscal realities and that we are willing partners in education.  As leaders in education we need to impress upon Albertans that we will use our creativity, innovation and good will to find efficiencies that will allow Catholic education to continue in our province.

I therefore recommend the following:

That the Board of Trustees at their March 21, 2017 public Board meeting agree that given the tough fiscal position our province finds itself in and given the fact that we are committed to putting kids first, Edmonton Catholic Schools will:

  1. support our commitment to permeation of faith in the classroom and reaffirm our confidence in the Catholic teachings that take place there
  2. collaborate with municipalities, health centres, libraries, community leagues, post- secondary institutions, and other K-12 learning institutions including public and francophone school boards in sharing efficiencies in transportation and operational matters according to the ACSTA Document Catholic School Facilities in Alberta Fundamental Principles, Process and Guidelines
  3. advocate to the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association to repeal policies that constrain collaboration and opportunities of working together with non – Catholic school districts. The portion of the Fundamental Principles that we would specifically request to be amended are:
  1. Free-standing Catholic schools on separate sites have a long and successful history in this province and remain the standard for Catholic educational facilities.
  2. The ACSTA and its member boards oppose the joint use of school buildings with public school boards in any manner that has the effect of undermining or interrupting the full permeation of Catholic values and beliefs.

 

Update: Conflict of Interest

It has come to my attention from several media contacts that they would like to do a story on the conflict of interest issue which I outlined below but they can’t because the Ethics Commissioner won’t verify that I indeed contacted them. I imagine that the EC is doing this to protect my confidentiality.  I appreciate that but unfortunately, without their verification it looks like I fabricated the contact and the content of our conversation.  Thanks to the wonders of technology I have a screen shot from my phone to prove that I wrote them an email asking for help with the issue and they responded 1 hour and 21 minutes later by by phoning me back.  Because there is nothing in writing to verify that they told me Trustee Kowalczyk was indeed in a conflict of interest, I am seeking additional opinions on the matter from lawyers who practice administrative law and professionals in the area of ethics and governance.  Perhaps once I get these opinions, the Ministry of Education which has jurisdiction over trustees, will take action.