“It’s over!,” I yelled!!! I was being sued for conflict of interest because I have a daughter who teaches in the TDSB and it is over. The complaint had been withdrawn and the judge had dismissed the case. It isn’t as satisfying as being found innocent but it will cost less than a fifth of a trial. And most importantly – it is over!
For those of you who have never been sued, let me tell you it is scary and destabilizing no matter how firmly you believe in your own innocence.
It began with the serving of the notice on the Friday before last year’s Municipal Election. My first task, after trying to figure out what had just happened, was to find someone who could tell me what I needed to do. Find a lawyer, get documents asked for in the writ, clear the use of the documents with the relevant parties, then going over the documents to try to recall all of the personal information such as emails and conversations – the “who-was-doing-what-to-whom-and-when” information – going back seven years, and, hardest of all, find the money to pay the lawyer.
I have a daughter, my third, who is a teacher in the TDSB. She has been with the TDSB for more than 11 years and for the TCDSB for quite a time before that. That makes her pretty far up on the seniority list. More than half of the secondary teachers in Toronto would have to be fired before her job would be in danger.
I have been scrupulous in declaring that I might be perceived to have a conflict of interest and abstaining from debate, not discussing anything to do with negotiations and withdrawing from the room when items on teacher salaries or positions are discussed. I know that my job would be on the line if I were to participate in anything to do with these topics.
What will happen now is that I must apply to be reimbursed for the funds spent in my defence. This is covered by board insurance against “frivolous and vexatious” suits. It seems that large corporations carry such insurance to protect against just such occasions as this. Because of this, I had wanted to publish this article in Beach Metro before the regular press had the information. I may have been too late and it may have gotten to you in one of our city’s papers. If so, I am sorry, I really wanted you to be the first to hear about and for it to have come from me, personally.
Were I found guilty of a conflict of interest, I could well lose my position as trustee. I am sure that you are all aware that I love this job and would never do anything to endanger it or to lose the trust of the people I serve. To guide and protect the tens of thousands of children of this Board is an awesome challenge and opportunity. I take it very seriously.
Finally I want to thank all of the folks who have given advice and support. It really mattered. I won’t soon forget.