Staff members listen as a community meeting was held at Hartsdale Avenue Public School.
Some parents are not happy with the decision to rename the school in
honour of Peel Board of Education Chair Janet McDougald.
Photo by Rob Beintema
Decisions on what to name schools must be made in public, says Ontario's education ministry.
While not wishing to comment on the controversy in Peel, that "is the kind of decision that has to be made in public session," a ministry spokesperson said Wednesday. "The expectation is that it be made in a public setting."
The Peel District School Board upset some parents at Hartsdale Avenue Public School in Mississauga by renaming it after longtime trustee and chair Janet McDougald without any community consultation and during a private meeting earlier this fall.
Parents say they thought Hartsdale was the final name, given to the school created after three closed, and inspired by the name of the street it's on.
They say students and staff had already created a motto and mascot - the Hartsdale Husky - based on it. According to the Peel board's own policies, the street name should be the top priority when naming a school.
McDougald, however, has said she will accept the honour. Meanwhile, a petition is circulating among parents - and another among students - asking her to decline.
McDougald, who grew up in the community and raised her family there, said she's had many calls of support. She said such decisions are made in private because they involve individuals who could be embarrassed if the vote goes against them. It could also prove embarrassing for the board, she added.
"It's not done to be secretive, it's done to be sensitive, " she said.
The name change is passed in a private meeting, which is when it's a "done deal, " she said. It is then formally made public at the next board meeting.
The new name for Hartsdale will be publicly "received" by trustees at next week's board meeting.
In contrast, when the Halton public board was naming schools last year, it solicited community submissions and shortlisted those suggestions - some of them honouring living persons - and with public discussion.
In fact, those who had hoped a particular school would be named after astronaut Roberta Bondar lost in a draw, after a tie vote by trustees.
For another new school, a handful of parents opposed naming it after wrestler-turned-philanthropist Tiger Jeet Singh, though that ultimately passed.
McDougald said the Peel board's policy and procedure is based on legal opinion and that "we would disagree" with the province's stance on public decisions.
"I believe as I've said to you, for very good reason, we don't do it that way," she said.
She also noted that when the school was named Hartsdale, she received several calls complaining the name wasn't creative enough.
Comments by others - 19 - to this web-page at time of posting;
hio Dec 12, 2011 5:43 PM
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Janet-McDougald-STOP/202634003156255?sk=info#!/pages/Janet-McDougald-STOP/202634003156255?sk=wall Is is true that teachers cannot comment or vote on online polls about this because it violates their contract?
my comment Dec 8, 2011 6:06 PM
Her judgement in the last few days tells you why she is the lowest politician on the totem pole. Trustee is a part time layperson job created to oversee the education bureaucracy. 15 years ago the provincial government cut their number in half and remuneration to $5,000 a year. This was after growing expense account scandals and the self-imposed raising of what was supposed to be a stipend to a real salary. Trustees are simply not active in the day to day operations of the school board. Notice how Mrs. McDougal says those attacking her (protesting this reprehensible renaming) should have just taken the time to call her and that she is approachable and available? Get it? Just give her a chance to make you one of her supporters. These people really do take the public for dummies. TRUSTEES DO NOT MATERIALLY CONTRIBUTE TO THE EDUCATION OF OUR CHILDREN. There is nothing to recognize these people for!
Agree 5 - Disagree 1
Tony Jackson Dec 8, 2011 5:59 PM
@INeed2SMH ; that's a nasty attempt to elude the truth
As Stephen Wahl mentioned, she's yet another manipulative politician. And I understand that there is hardly anything outstanding or extraordinary she could claim as she's done as an educator. It's just the cronyism prevailing in the School Board resulted this shameful development.
Agree 5 - Disagree 1
INeed2SMH Dec 8, 2011 5:46 PM
Why don't you ask her, or her colleagues, or staff, or Peel residents, or those she sits on school/board/provincial/national committees with? Before you presume that someone's intentions are to just sit back, sip margaritas and collect a big bad paycheque at the expense of taxpayers, think again. This is not the Janet we know. Get to know her---really know her. That'll be all I say on this topic.
Agree 1 - Disagree 7
Tony Jackson Dec 8, 2011 5:33 PM
This decision of renaming the shool after an incumbent politician affects everyone except Janet and her family very negatively. Instead of making as vague as possible, could you please let us know what outstanding performance or contribution goes to Janet's credit that is worthy of naming an School after her?
Agree 3 - Disagree 1
INeed2SMH Dec 8, 2011 5:14 PM
Disturbed and disappointed
Sadly, I am disappointed to be a part of a community that is showing such a lack of respect for an individual who has committed herself to serving Peel children and their families for over 20 years. We teach our children to care for and respect others, and celebrate those who make a difference. For a second, before you "submit" your rude comment, think about how many people you're hurting with your post. It goes well beyond Janet---your negative comments affect her family, her friends, those who have and will continue to support her fabulous work to make a difference for all children--YOUR children. Give your head a shake---and walk the talk. Be kind to others...even if it hurts you to just think about it.
Agree 1 - Disagree 7
Fartleberry Dec 8, 2011 4:08 PM
I'd like to see them keep the name
and put in stainless lettering underneath it the total amount of money she's managed to grab from us taxpayers. Do we have a deal? Like I say, entitled to our entitlements aren't we?
bandrhere Dec 8, 2011 3:39 PM
Dont ya just think its priceless the way she defends the secret decision. McDougald is determined to have her name labelled on the school and not a thing seems to stand in her way. It would seem that she doesnt even care what the community might think.Talk about entitlement !!!!!!!
CdnMom Dec 8, 2011 1:55 PM
The school already had a name
This is what school trustees meetings cover? What do trustees really do except use the post as a stepping stone to city councilor. Most parents never call their trustees. Hartsdale is much simpler to say than the long Janet McDougald. Really does the school need a name change or does the trustee need her name on a building?
MakingaPoint Dec 8, 2011 1:04 PM
Province weighs in .....
When has the provincial government ever held community consultations or meeting around naming their buildings?
Agree 1 - Report Abuse 1
macman Dec 8, 2011 11:13 AM
Yes, she does want this very badly, to the point of it being embarrassing. Who would not want the honor? It just needs to go to someone more deserving, not a career politician whose best accomplishment is keeping a job for 23 years.
my comment Dec 8, 2011 11:06 AM
Third chance to reconsider
This is becoming hilarious. School Boards are creatures of the provincial government. Now this woman is arguing she relying on a different interpretation of naming policy? What? The provincial government just told you the legal process. Arguing first with the kids at the school, then the community and now the provincial government? Well, so much for claims this was a surprise. She wants this very badly.
Gideon Dec 8, 2011 10:46 AM
We are saying all this basen on...
Not sure I have a lot of faith in the opinion of an un-named ministry official
Stephen Wahl Dec 8, 2011 9:56 AM
McDougald says that it is discussed in private until it is “a done deal”
Seeing as how Ms. McDougald brought up the topic of ‘done deals’; I will veer off topic a little; and bring up another ‘done deal’ done by none other than McDougald. I speak, of course, of the Britannia Farm/Osmington deal. As it turns out; it appears that McDougald; more than three years after April 2008, when she publically announced the “done deal” with Osmington as the winning proponent of the Britannia Farm development; she had not actually gotten Osmington to sign the damn thing. It was never actually a done deal; and, after many years of terms and conditions being met or not met by the various parties involved; Osmington finally pulled the plug in May 2011. Now; McDougald is claiming Osmington owes the PDSB somewhere between one half to a million dollars.
Fartleberry Dec 8, 2011 9:42 AM
At least the province recognizes there are limits to avarice here.
From the CBC: ""This is certainly the best Christmas present I have ever received and certainly one my family will never be able to top," she said." From the Star: "Naming rules - The Peel board's rules around naming schools, in order of priority: • The name of the street on which they are located". And you know something? Every damn thing in Sault Ste. Marie is named after Roberta Bondar.
Agree 2 - Disagree 1
Stephen Wahl Dec 8, 2011 9:35 AM
Earlier versions of this article as well as many commenter’s’ have pointed out the Electoral advantages this would give to McDougald
As if she didn’t already have enough help in getting elected/acclaimed; like in the 2010 election. In that election for Public School Trustee; it looked like McDougald was about to be acclaimed until another candidate threw their hat in the ring thus discouraging any other potential opposition. Then After close of nominations, it was pointed out that the only candidate to stand against McDougald could not qualify for Public School Trustee because they were on the tax roll as supporting the Separate School System and could only run for the position of Separate School Trustee if they wanted to. But it was too late to change, so the candidate just did not run a campaign and instead publically endorsed McDougald. Illegal? No. Ethical? You be the judge.
Agree 6 - Disagree 1
macman Dec 8, 2011 9:24 AM
It is unbelievable that she, and her fellow trustees, think this is even appropriate. What a self congratulatory pat on the back, perhaps a self appointed raise is in order to honor the hard work of the other trustees to even things out a little (sarcasm of course).
Agree 6 - Disagree 1
ConcernedResident Dec 8, 2011 8:58 AM
Her ethics need a re-look
Why is she out front defending this? Shame on you Janet. It does not matter how many "calls of support" you claim you've had. There appears to be a significant level of unrest with this, that should be enough for your to say "thanks, but no thanks". If it goes through, it will forever be tainted.
Agree 7 - Report Abuse 1
macman Dec 8, 2011 8:42 AM
This needs to be blocked
An elected official who is still serving and will probably run in another election should not have public facilities named after them. Imagine the advantage politically that this will carry? It is difficult enough to get anyone to run against her.
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