THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Toronto Star - Jan. 24, 2012 - By Kristin Rushowy, Education Reporter -
Peel board to discuss school-naming policy,
Peel’s public board will look at its school-naming policy in light of the controversy over a decision to rename a school after Chair Janet McDougald, says the director of education.
While Tony Pontes doesn’t expect the board to review the process or decision in the McDougald case, he is “sure there will be discussion . . . but clearly there have been some questions raised here, and so we will absolutely (discuss) it.
“Can I promise you it will change? No,” he said.
The decision to rename Hartsdale Avenue public school in honour of McDougald, a 23-year trustee who has served as chair for the past 14 years, has prompted criticism from some parents who say it was done in private, with no public consultation and no notice — and for no reason, in the middle of the school year.
In a letter to the board, the Mississauga Lakeview Ratepayers’ Association called the decision both inappropriate given McDougald is a sitting politician and an “insult” given she was part of a committee that closed three schools in the area.
Those children are now being bussed to the school named after her, the letter also says.
While noting school names are a local issue, boards are expected to make such decisions in public and should consult with the community, said Greg MacNeil, press secretary to Education Minister Laurel Broten.
He said the ministry has “no opinion” on the Peel board’s actions “as we are not privy to the information discussed.”
“When it is done this way, it’s not surprising that it attracts public attention,” said John Bell, an education lawyer at Shibley Righton who has represented many Toronto-area school boards.
“One would have thought that if the board is going to give a school name to a community stalwart that community involvement would occur.”
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