TVDSB investigation into Blackridge co-owner's actions officially underway
A complaint against Thames Valley District School Board Trustee Jake Skinner will be investigated by three of his fellow trustees, not the board's recently appointed integrity commissioner.
The complaint was filed in June by Trustee Corrine Rahman after questions were raised about Skinner’s actions as co-owner of political consulting firm Blackridge Strategy.
Blackridge created a pair of websites that attacked incumbent councillors Maureen Cassidy and Virginia Ridley during last year’s election.
Under a tab titled “child abuse,” one of the websites recounted an incident when Ridley brought her son to a budget meeting at city hall.
The TVDSB Code of Conduct investigation will be conducted by Board Chair Arlene Morell and trustees Bill McKinnon and Bruce Smith.
Director of Education Laura Elliott says, “We want to make sure that we have public confidence in the process and that the matter is taken seriously and handled as quickly as possible.”
The board is following the process laid out in its bylaws, which states that a complaint by a board member, about the actions of another board member, is investigated by a panel of three other board members appointed by the board chair.
However, the board just hired an integrity commissioner at the end of June.
Elliott explains why the independent integrity commissioner isn’t conducting the investigation instead.
“[It's] because it is a process that is outlined in our board bylaws and this is an issue of trustee conduct. The integrity commissioner may well be involved at some point, but at this point that person has not been called into action.”
Elliott adds the three-member investigation panel can contact the Ontario public School Boards Association for guidelines about Code of Conduct investigations.
Once evidence is submitted by Rahman, Skinner will have 30 days to respond.
Then the three-member panel of trustees will report its confidential findings to the board for a decision.
Elliott says that could happen as soon as the September board meeting.