OCDSB chair ousted in card draw after split vote

Lyra Evans, thought to be the first openly transgender school trustee in Canada, was first elected to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board in 2018. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)
Lyra Evans, thought to be the first openly transgender school trustee in Canada, was first elected to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board in 2018. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)

Trustee Lyra Evans has been ousted as chair of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) after losing a high-card draw on Tuesday.

Trustee Lynn Scott, who drew the higher card from the deck during the board's annual organizational meeting, will replace Evans as chair for the 2023-24 school year.

The OCDSB announced Scott's re-election in a news release issued Tuesday morning, but did not describe the manner in which she won.

OCDSB spokesperson Darcy Knoll later confirmed to CBC that the vote had come down to a high-card draw after two split votes.

According to the board's bylaws and standing rules, when a tie vote occurs a second ballot must be held. If that second attempt results in another tie, "the members involved shall draw cards to determine the results, using Bridge Convention to determine ranking of cards."

Under those rules, aces are high and the suits are ranked spade, heart, diamond and club in descending order. Following the draw, the board's director of education Pino Buffone did not announce which card each candidate had drawn.

1st openly transgender trustee

Evans, who's thought to be Canada's first openly transgender school trustee, was first elected to the board in 2018 and was appointed chair last year.

Her brief tenure was marked by controversy over mask mandates and uniformed police officers in schools.

"This past year has been a tumultuous one," Evans told trustees before the vote.

"We have agreed and we have disagreed on a range of topics representing the diversity of opinions that exists in our community, often vehemently. As a board, we must rise above these divisions, we must act in the best interests of our students, of our staff and of our children."

Evans declined an interview request from CBC.

Lynn Scott, chair of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, says there's still time to make sure the province understands the impact of the changes.
Lynn Scott, chair of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, says there's still time to make sure the province understands the impact of the changes.

Lynn Scott was elected chair of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board on Tuesday after drawing cards to resolve a split vote. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

'We must do better'

Scott agreed the past year has been "interesting and sometimes difficult," and warned her colleagues that big challenges lie ahead.

"In terms of student achievement and well-being, we must do better. In terms of equity, diversity and inclusion, we must do better. In terms of public confidence in the OCDSB, we must do better," she said before the vote.

"That means engaging in healthy, vigorous debate with constructive dissent, and arriving at decisions that are well-reasoned, evidence-based, and that all of us can support."

Following the vote, Scott, who has represented Zone 1 since the OCDSB's creation in 1998 and has previously chaired the board of trustees, thanked Evans for her leadership over the past year, the OCDSB said.

OCDSB trustees are elected every four years during municipal elections. Chairs are appointed to one-year terms, and can be re-appointed if no challenger comes forth.

Trustee Cathryne Milburn was elected vice-chair.

Trustees were also elected to various standing, statutory, ad hoc, special purpose and other committees during the meeting, the board said.