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DDSB approves Oshawa trustee resignation

Ashley Noble, former DDSB Oshawa trustee

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

The Durham District School Board (DDSB) met at a special board meeting to approve the resignation of Oshawa Trustee Ashley Noble.

Noble announced her resignation Monday, Oct. 19, after the regular board meeting.

The board voted nine-to-one in favour of Noble’s resignation and released an official statement following the meeting.

“Acting as a trustee is a difficult and demanding responsibility,” states the board, noting the board has “successfully addressed numerous challenging issues.”

“As a board, we are committed to upholding our responsibilities under the Education Act and Trustee Code of Conduct, while maintaining a focus on our multi-year plan and the success of the entire system in the wake of a global pandemic. The students and families that we serve deserve nothing less.”

In her statement following last week’s regular board meeting, Noble says she was left “heartbroken,” noting while it’s not what she wanted to do, she says her resignation is what she has to do “to move forward.”

“There comes a time in one’s life when you are forced to make a tough decision,” she writes, adding over the last 17 months, she has felt “overwhelming disappointment in some of the actions the board has chosen to take.”

“As trustees, we are one unit; when the board makes a decision, we are to support it regardless of how we personally voted.”

Noble says she has always been open about her mental health, which she says has taken a “dramatic plunge due to the psychological damage I’ve experienced at the DDSB” over the past 11 months.

“I have struggled with many of the decisions the board has made,” she continues, noting a concern with the lack of transparency within the board.

She says her concerns and the board’s concerns no longer align, despite several attempts to explain her concerns.

“I tried to move past it and chose to move forward, but there was a large part of me that could not morally move on knowing that my fundamental beliefs and the board’s fundamental beliefs were not aligned.”

The board says it takes its obligations with respect to transparency, accountability and integrity seriously.

“Following an independent third-party investigation, the board determined Trustee Noble was untruthful to the board and therefore in breach of the Code of Conduct,” the board’s statement continues.

“Despite that finding, the board chose not to issue sanctions against her and planned to move forward collaboratively to share their voice publicly, and the board will continue to strive to create an environment that facilitates open discussion by all members.”

The circumstances around the Oshawa trustee’s resignation recently raised questions about the board’s former integrity commissioner, noting the board ended the contract with the integrity commissioner earlier this year, stating the board was “no longer satisfied that she could effectively fulfill her duties.”

Around this same time, the board says Peel District School Board and Thames Valley District School Board also ended contracts with its former integrity commissioner.

The board says any Code of Conduct matters that the former integrity commissioner was investigating have been re-assigned to Interim Integrity Commissioner Jan Parnega.

“Interim Integrity Commissioner Parnega has the full trust and confidence of the board that she will carry out her duties in a complete, impartial and fair manner,” states the board. “We are committed to moving forward in a positive and proactive manner to ensure the needs of students, staff and residents of Durham Region are well served in the 2020-21 school year that has already brought about so much change.”

Trustees have requested staff come back to the board in November with options and costs to fill the vacant Oshawa trustee seat.