As I've become more familiar with both, I've stuck my nose out and also commented on how I feel some of the players in both issues are, er, becoming so dedicated to the cause they may not realize they've taken it far beyond where it should go. My opinion on the NOTL council decision to face the District School Board of Niagara at the Ontario Municipal Board in April is pretty clear. More recently, the decision of Bluewater opponents to keep trying to find a new venue to air their grievances was also an opportunity to comment on the efficacy or futility of the strategy.
Just before the weekend -- posted Friday, published in Saturday papers -- the Sun Times and the Standard had updates on both issues.
From the Standard's piece:
In an eight-page missive handed out at a board meeting this week, Thorold-Pelham trustee Gary Atamanyk argues the motion passed in June 2008 to close NDSS after this school year is not legal because the board did not follow proper procedure.A judicial review is the only avenue available past an accommodation review and the petitioned administrative review of the process by a ministry appointed adviser. A person or group petitions the court in Toronto to review the matter and outlines the basis in law that wasn't followed or was incorrectly interpreted. It has happened a handful of times in the past decade, and most of the decisions I've read (a Thames Valley one, a few Ottawa-Carleton ones) side with the board. Which, in the Thames Valley case, led to one executive superintendent's continual reminder to all that the school-closure process in place at the time (pre-Kennedy moratorium request) was "court tested."
"I believe a judicial review is a necessity," Atamanyk wrote. "Without there being a speedy resolution of all questions through a judicial review, I would anticipate that responsible parents throughout the DSBN may seek to look out for the best interests of their children by considering the options of home schooling, private schools or our co-terminus (Catholic) board's offerings. A loss of students would affect the total funding for the entire DSBN."
Tuesday's write-up is the third in a series of "opinions" about the handling of NDSS's fate that Atamanyk has quietly passed to board staff, trustees and the media at board meetings.
They will continue until someone volunteers to take on the DSBN via the legal system, Atamanyk said.
The key here? Atamanyk needs a knight in legal robes -- or a knight willing to hire someone else in legal robes -- to step forward and do his dirty work for him. Will he find one?
From the Sun Times:
"Premier, families are weeping in Bluewater. Help them," said a Jan. 11 letter to the premier, signed by Peter Ferguson.Well, I do hope reporter Scott Dunn asked Ferguson if he could speak with these 'weeping families.' The ones that are so prevalent in Bluewater the group of nine who signed the letter requesting the premier call an inquiry included a bunch of people who likely don't have children in the system anymore and one person who doesn't even live in the district? Are they among the supposed 'over 500' who've contacted the area MP? I become increasingly cynical of these sorts of statements when I've been writing about an issue for a while, and I've reached that point here. If there are SO many opposed, weeping, at wit's end and running away from the Bluewater board's schools, well, where the hell are they? Why do we only keep hearing from the same handful of people?
"We continue to get calls from parents who are weeping on the phone because their children are in jeopardy," he said yesterday in an interview.
A woman who called him this week cried on the phone because her son was bullied and assaulted in the washroom and the response by his teacher, principal and the police was unsatisfactory, Ferguson said.
"The board is not being held to account for all the weeping children — and apparently (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP) Larry Miller thinks they now number something in the range of 500 — who have already been damaged."
The group will decide this week when it will approach the ombudsman, Ferguson said.
"Our hope is that the ombudsman would not get involved," Ferguson said. "But certainly our hope and intention is that the premier will meet his responsibilities and institute the inquiry."
The commission of inquiry should investigate all complaints against the board and the conduct of the board, he said.
I do hope the premier actually gets this letter -- I heard last week on the day the Sun Times published the article on the request for an inquiry, neither the premier's office or the ministry had received any correspondence from Ferguson with the request.
In a reflective moment however, I wonder if perhaps I've just become too cynical, too jaded, too tired with these two particular narratives.
Are the players being persistent in the face of these massive roadblocks to reason? Or are these advocates simply unaware their particular time for battle has passed and that every subsequent action just makes paying any reasonable attention to their cause an increasingly moot point?
I lean to the latter, but hope it's not because my own tendency to veer towards cynicism is what's taking me there.