Trustees on Ottawa's largest school board have decided to uphold their decision to sanction one of their most outspoken colleagues.
In December, Nili Kaplan-Myrth was barred from attending the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board's (OCDSB) Jan. 30 meeting and from sitting on several committees for a period of three months.
The board reached the decision following an investigation by the board's integrity commissioner that examined the conduct of three trustees to determine whether they had breached the OCDSB's code of conduct.
The next step may be going to court. - Nili Kaplan-Myrth
Only Kaplan-Myrth was sanctioned following a meeting to discuss the integrity commissioner's findings. She appealed the decision soon after.
"I am calling on my colleagues to hold themselves to a level of respect that is higher than what is outlined in the [commissioner's] report," trustee Cathryne Milburn said at Tuesday night's meeting as the vote about the appeal drew near.
"But I stand by the report. I stand by the decisions we made and I still stand by the sanctions that we compromised on at the end of the day."
Kaplan-Myrth requested leave
The vote was broken into two parts, with the board unanimously voting to confirm that the trustee had violated the code. It also confirmed its decision to uphold the sanctions.
Kaplan-Myrth, who is a strong and vocal advocate for masking and vaccination, has been the target of hate including antisemitic and misogynistic harassment that has lead to criminal charges.
In the wake of the commissioner's report, Kaplan-Myrth wrote a letter to Ontario's education minister requesting a leave of absence, and filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
In her letter to the minister, the trustee wrote she was seeking leave "because of the persistent antisemitism that I have experienced in my tenure as an OCDSB Trustee and the reprisals of senior staff and OCDSB trustees for speaking about antisemitism."
In addition to her letter and complaint, Kaplan-Myrth told CBC she's filed a complaint with the province's information and privacy commissioner over the disclosure of emails between staff discussing her safety plans.
Kaplan-Myrth, a family doctor in Ottawa, was sanctioned by the board in December. (Jean Delisle/CBC)
Proceedings 'Orwellian,' trustee says
In her appeal, Kaplan-Myrth's lawyer states the report was "based on faulty or incomplete" findings and includes "fundamental errors in its statements about the relevant applicable legal principles,"
The report illustrates "Kaplan-Myrth's central complaint that the Board has not taken seriously her concerns about antisemitism or its impact on her own safety," according to the lawyer.
In an interview with CBC News on Wednesday morning, Kaplan-Myrth described the proceedings as "Orwellian."
"I think the fact that they didn't even mention a word of the grounds of the appeal speaks volumes," she said. "They have basically continued to do what they've done for the last year, which is to absolutely ignore the antisemitism."
Kaplan-Myrth said she wasn't particularly hopeful the sanctions would be overturned as she watched last night's meeting, noting it was the same group who voted for them just one month ago.
"The next step may be going to court," she said. "Judicial review is an option that my lawyer and I are discussing."