Trustee Julia Burgess offers to resign over the loss of HDHS

Filed under: IN THE NEWS |

burgessby Jennifer Cranston

Julia Burgess is the Greater Essex County District School Board Trustee for Kingsville and Essex, and on Monday night, she offered to resign.

At a town hall meeting at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Harrow, members of the community gathered to hear Burgess discuss her feelings and observations on the recent PARC process that resulted in the slated closure of HDHS.

“I wanted a chance to be publicly accountable in my role as Trustee,” she said.

In 2008-2009 Burgess was part of the process that legally defined the role of a Trustee.

The definition reads in part, “Must uphold the implementation of any resolution made by the Board.”

She personally fought for the specific wording of that clause, and she said it is what she struggles with now.

“I think our Board has disregarded the well-being of students,” she said.

She spoke about the recent school closure decisions and the results. She was upset over promises made to Kingsville and Harrow that were never kept.

Burgess said that she thinks she should have a “trusting” working relationship with Board Administration, but she struggles with that trust now.

When she ran in the last election, she did not know Harrow and Kingsville would once again be under review. And she campaigned on the idea that she had helped to keep education in Harrow.

“I feel like I led you down the garden path because I trusted Administration,” she said through tears. “They didn’t tell me. I didn’t know. I’m sorry, it’s important for you to know that I’m sorry. I gave them the trust they didn’t deserve.”
She offered to resign, leaving a vacancy. There is no mechanism to replace her so the place at the table would remain vacant or the Board would appoint someone to sit there.

“I could stay but I would have to uphold this decision,” she said.

She talked about how she argued against the strange mix of schools in this study. She also had objections to the PARC Committee being given restrictions that they should not have been given. She talked about Administration restricting ideas at the PARC. She talked about the Committee being told they could look at other schools and then being told later that they could not.

“There were irregularities,” she said. “I question those irregularities.”

The community members present offered Burgess their support and asked her to stay on as their Trustee.

“It would be a disservice to this community and the family of schools you represent for you to resign,” Trudy Richards said.

This statement was met with applause from the audience.

Essex Town Councillors Sherry Bondy and Bill Caixeiro were present as well as Mayor Ron McDermott.
Caixiero said that Burgess could best serve her community by staying on the Board.