The following letter was sent to Dan Belluz, chairman of the Rainy River District School Board, and fellow trustees:
Fortunately, no one became ill from the incident at Sturgeon Creek School. Unfortunately, that incident has helped to clarify and illustrate this board’s ability to oversee management.
As owner of the water system, the board is responsible for its operation. The board however, employs professionals to manage and operate all of the board’s systems according to policies set out by the board.
It is, therefore, incumbent on management to implement and adhere to procedures that are consistent with the board’s policy.
In this case, the board has a Safe Drinking Water policy that directs management to operate the board’s water systems according to the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 and other regulations.
The board’s press release of Jan. 14, 2009 concerning Sturgeon Creek School was disingenuous and minimized the significance of the incident. In my opinion, that release reflects a management response, not a board’s.
An effective board would have taken the opportunity to reassure staff, students/parents, and the public, in general, that the incident had been reviewed by the board and procedures were amended or added in an effort to ensure an incident like Sturgeon Creek School would not happen again.
Further, the board would not answer the last two questions I posed regarding how long it took to fix the system and whether staff and student/parents had been informed of the situation.
As the prosecutor for the Ministry of Environment indicated, how the situation at Sturgeon Creek School was handled left staff and students at significant risk—an indication that front-line staff and students are not a priority for this management.
My next letter will consider the ability of this board to exercise its fiduciary responsibility of oversight and accountability of management for board policy and procedures with regards to the $300,000 line of credit and the missing funds at Fort High, now apparently over $400,000.
It is quite disconcerting.
Fort Frances, Ont.