A long-time Toronto District School Board trustee has bowed out of a contentious school boundary review after a resident alleged his involvement constituted a conflict of interest.
Property values in Trustee Howard Goodman’s Eglinton-Lawrence ward are closely tied to the reputations of their local schools. The board is reviewing possible school boundary changes in order to help accommodate full-day kindergarten that may impact John Ross Robertson Junior Public School, near Mr. Goodman’s home.
The conflict of interest allegation was brought to a TDSB superintendent earlier this month.
Mr. Goodman said he disagrees that he’s in conflict, but the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act doesn’t provide much clarity on the situation.
“I’m exposed to some significant and harsh penalties,” he said in an interview Wednesday. He said he removed himself because his job as a trustee could be threatened if he’s found in conflict.
“I’m devastated. I’m truly devastated that the work I was going to be doing with the community … is not going to happen unless we clear this up,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking and it is disturbing.”
Parents from the community lamented the decision on Facebook. Many worried that their community’s interests wouldn’t be represented at the school board without their local trustee’s vote.
Michael Barrett, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, said the challenge to Mr. Goodman and other elected trustees as a result of this allegation is how they can properly represent their communities.
“It is ill-timed, ill-prepared and misguided,” Mr. Barrett said of the allegation against Mr. Goodman. “It personally challenges an individual who has always represented his area with professionalism and we will be pursuing this further to ensure our trustees are protected.”