Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) trustee Donna Dickson is slamming her board for not holding fellow trustee Nili Kaplan-Myrth accountable for what Dickson sees as bullying.
Dickson says Kaplan-Myrth should resign.
Earlier this week, the board held a special meeting to discuss a code of conduct complaint Dickson filed against Kaplan-Myrth over a series of texts she sent to convince Dickson to support her mask mandate motion last year.
In the texts, Kaplan-Myrth tells Dickson, who is black, that she would be siding with white supremacists were she to vote against mandating masks.
After a tense meeting during which Kaplan-Myrth angrily interrupted others, seven voted in favour of declaring a code of conduct breach, zero voted against and four abstained. However, eight votes (a two-thirds majority) were needed to declare a breach.
In an exclusive interview with True North, Dickson shared her disappointment with the board – noting that the decision sends a bad message.
“We have four trustees that know the truth and choose to turn a blind eye,” she said.
“We suspend students for bullying, and yet, they’re okay with a trustee bullying. What message are we really sending to our students?… that you can get bullied and you have no right, even though you might be right.”
Amid facing accusations of wrongdoing, Kaplan-Myrth said the latter was politically motivated and came amid her receiving antisemitic hate.
“In the face of antisemitism, disinformation, and a campaign by the far-right to see my head roll… I’m on trial with OCDSB,” wrote Kaplan Myrth on X. “The Ottawa public school (board) unfortunately has a toxic pattern of conservative trustees abusing its ‘code of conduct’ process to try to silence progressives. I was warned ahead of time. I’m the 2023 target.”
Dickson said she condemns any hate received by Kaplan-Myrth, but noted that the latter does not justify her intimidating behaviour.
“If you’re the victim on social media, who gives you the right to come and victimize another person, right? If anything, you should have more empathy and understanding.”
“(Nili says) ‘I’m a Jewish woman that’s being prosecuted, I’m getting hate mail’. You know, I get it, but does that give you the right to talk to people the way you want and use that as the reason for talking like that? Can any of us actually go in public and start yelling and then use that?”
“We call them the Karens of the world.”
Dickson believes it would be best if Kaplan-Myrth resigned from her position.
“Her behavior towards the board, towards the public, towards the speakers that we’ve had, when she does not agree with what they have to say, her disrespect, is beyond what it is to be a politician.”
“You can’t do board business, right?”
“She needs to check her own words. If she’s doing that to a minority trustee… as a doctor, what is she doing to her own patients?”
Dickson also criticized the board’s chair, Lyra Evans, for her handling of the process.
“The administration, the director, and Lyra chose not to follow through,” she alleged after she made the complaint. “I had to hound and hound.”
“We need a chair… that will sit there and do their job, so we don’t have the Nilis within the board trying to push other agendas all the time.”
“And all those people that want to support (Nili), power to you. But let’s be real, that means you condone racism, you condone bullying.”
In response to the ordeal, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce told CTV News “we share the concerns of many parents troubled by the behaviour at, and leading up to, last night’s board meeting.”
“Our government urges the board to focus on the academic achievement of students and get back to basics of what matters most: reading, writing and math.”
“In one of Ontario’s largest school boards, time and resources should be focused on student achievement and wellbeing, not on debates stemming from actions that undermine public confidence.”
Local PC MPPs also criticized the move, including Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod, who accused some of the trustees of being “so woke that they’re asleep at the switch when it comes to doing the basics of their job.”
Dickson told True North “I’m not here to fight with Nili. I’m here for the students, to give them a better space.” However, she is not optimistic that things will get better for the board anytime soon.
Kaplan-Myrth and Evans did not respond to a request for comment from True North.