Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Chris Bolton, Chairman of TDSB attends a board meeting in Toronto on Wednesday May 14, 2014. The Ontario government has investigated the chair of Canada's largest school board over management fees his charity collected from donations to a school while he was principal. Photo: Chris Young for The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail

Toronto District School Board trustees have defeated a move to publicly address the conduct of their chair after revelations he was the subject of spending probes during his tenure as a school principal.

Long-time trustee Stephnie Payne urged her colleagues to force Chris Bolton to provide an explanation at a public meeting on Wednesday of donations for a Toronto elementary school that he directed to his own charity more than a decade ago.

But during a private meeting earlier in the evening, Ms. Payne failed to get enough support from her colleagues to move the matter forward even in private, let alone public. Only eight supported her, leaving her short three votes.

Story continues below advertisement

"I'm very angry," Ms. Payne told The Globe and Mail. "Something is being hidden and the public needs to know."

Trustees who spoke with The Globe said Mr. Bolton briefly addressed the matter, saying everything had been dropped. Sheila Ward, a former TDSB chair and staunch supporter of Mr. Bolton, has said she did not share the results of the 2005 probe because she believed there was no proof of wrongdoing.

Another trustee expressed surprise that Mr. Bolton and Ms. Ward voted against Ms. Payne's initiative instead of recusing themselves. Of the 22 TDSB trustees, 19 were at the private session.

Mr. Bolton was not available for comment on Wednesday evening.

Ms. Payne said that despite the defeat, she hopes a member of the community will launch a public complaint, which would compel Mr. Bolton to address the allegations.

Ms. Payne said it was important for trustees to understand how the investigation, revealed by The Globe, concluded. A TDSB spokesman said the file was closed in 2005, but the outcome is not known.

TDSB staff investigated donations for a Toronto elementary school that Mr. Bolton directed to his own charity before he was elected a trustee in 2003, according to internal reports obtained by The Globe. The probe raised questions about Mr. Bolton's dual roles as a school principal and, according to one report, the "alter ego" of his charity. He became chair of the TDSB in 2010.

Story continues below advertisement

None of the reports have been shared with trustees.

Mr. Bolton defended his actions in an earlier interview, saying there was "nothing untoward about it."

Among the findings by TDSB staff, Mr. Bolton directed to his charity, Friends of Community Schools, a $50,000 grant for disadvantaged students that Ryerson Community School received from the Atkinson Foundation. His charity took a 5-per-cent management fee, even though the TDSB is a registered charity and does not charge fees for managing donations for its schools.

The TDSB, with the help of two law firms it retained, launched a review in 2001 of Mr. Bolton's handling of the donations to Ryerson while he was principal. By the time the review concluded in 2005, the TDSB had not been able to determine how the proceeds were dispersed.

Mr. Bolton refused to provide the TDSB with an accounting of how his charity used the donations, telling The Globe it was "none of their business" because the donations were made to his charity in trust for Ryerson.

The investigators' findings are summarized in a 2005 letter from law firm Keel Cottrelle to Mr. Bolton, accusing him of breaching his fiduciary duty to act in Ryerson's best interests. The letter asked him to repay $3,250 in commissions that were "unauthorized" and "constitute misappropriation of funds." Mr. Bolton's charity charged the commissions on donations to Ryerson totalling $65,000, including $50,000 from Atkinson and $10,000 from actor Denzel Washington, who shot a scene for a film at the school.

Story continues below advertisement

It is not known whether Mr. Bolton repaid the money. He told The Globe he never saw the letter from Keel Cottrelle, which was sent to his Toronto home by registered mail.

Trustee Chris Tonks said before the meeting that he hoped the "serious issues" would be raised.

"There's a crisis of confidence and accountability at our board, and we need to be doing things and taking actions that show the public that we are acting in a transparent manner, in an honest manner," Mr. Tonks said.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies