Fitzsimmons elected new chair of Catholic School Board

The Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board held their inaugural meeting for the 2022–26 term. It began with mass before the new board took their places at the table. The order of business was electing a new chair and vice-chair.

Leo de Jourdan, the former chair, lost his seat at the table in the last election on October 24. Tuesday evening, new trustee Frank O’Hagan and Shawn Fitzsimmons were contenders. After the ballots were counted, Shawn Fitzsimmons was elected. Fitzsimmons served as vice-chair during the 2018–22 term.

O’Hagan raised concerns about the timing of electing a chair and vice-chair, noting that the decision “is premature, given the silence and secrecy of this board in the last four years, and their questionable transparency, accountability and due diligence.”

He suggested “drastic changes” need to be made, and until change occurs, “tonight’s inauguration and selection of the chair and vice-chair are meaningless until we hear from the government, ministry and their official reports for this board.”

O’Hagan was referring to his desire to request a report from Minister of EducationStephen Lecce to investigate the board’s processes, procedures, and by-laws. In late October, soon after he was elected as trustee, O’Hagan told BayToday that “we need a house cleaning of those that have used silence and secrecy,” within the board, and “a housecleaning is due.”

See related: English Catholic trustee wants Province to take over local Board

Housecleaning was not on the agenda Tuesday, although the newly elected chair, Fitzsimmons, thanked the board, noting “I certainly appreciate the trust you have placed in me,” and wishing those gathered “a good four-year term.”

Together, he noted “we can take our young people throughout the 21st century,” and offer an environment where “everyone can learn in schools that are welcome and opening, and all students are able to succeed.” The common goal, he noted, is “educational excellence” for students.

Soon after his speech, the votes came in for vice-chair, and former trustee Barbara McCool was elected to the position, besting O’Hagan, whose name was also on the ticket.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca