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Near North updating policies following Ombudsman report on Parry Sound super school committee meetings

The Ontario Ombudsman has ruled that a Near North District School Board committee violated the Education Act when it held three closed meetings regarding the new JK-Grade 12 super school in late 2022, early 2023.

In his report, Ombudsman Paul Dube noted the committee was placed in the ‘difficult position’ of having to choose between complying with a Ministry of Education embargo and the Education Acts open meeting requirements.

According to Ombudsman Paul Dube, the fact the conversations were held behind closed doors was not an issue, as discussion topics did not fit within the Education Act’s open meeting exceptions.

However, the meetings were held electronically with no option for the public to attend them in person, which did not comply with the Act.

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The committee also failed to publicly report back on the closed discussions, which Dube referred to as a ‘best practice’.

“Publicly stating the issue enhances the transparency of local democracy and ensures that decision-makers are accountable when they discuss matters behind closed doors. In the future, I encourage the Committee to adopt the best practice of providing the public with
meaningful information about the matters to be discussed in camera,” stated Dube in his report.

The entire 18-page report is available at www.ombudsman.on.ca.

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