Catholic trustee disciplined over remarks in newspaper
Published Friday, September 20, 2013 11:41AM EDT
Waterloo Catholic District School Board trustees voted Thursday night to punish one of their own for comments made in a local newspaper.
In an op-ed piece written in the Waterloo Region Record last week, trustee Anthony Piscitelli suggested the board should look at opening its doors to students who do not belong to the Catholic faith.
In the piece, he claimed that the board does not currently admit non-Catholic students.
Other trustees took issue with this claim, as the board does allow non-Catholic students on a case-by-case basis.
Between the boards 45 elementary schools, there are currently 80 non-Catholic students enrolled.
Piscitelli apologized for his error, but that apology wasn’t enough for his fellow trustees, who voted 6-2 in favour of removing him from board committees for four months.
“I personally disagree with the decision that the board made, but I respect their right to do it,” Piscitelli told CTV News after the vote.
“I had low expectations for the meeting and the board lived up to those low expectations.”
There are three board committees Piscitelli sits on – one looking at opening access to the board to non-Catholics, one that hears appeals of suspensions and expulsions, and the board’s audit committee.
Board chair Wayne Buchholtz said he was surprised at the outcome of the vote and wants Piscitelli to return to his committees in January, but agrees that discipline was warranted.
“There are rules in place. The rules are there for a reason,” he said.
Joyce Anderson, one of two trustees to vote against the censure, said the motion seemed to be more of an attack on Piscitelli specifically.
“I hate to say the words, but it’s bullying. We are attempting to silence someone that not everyone agrees with,” she said.
Trustee Greg Reitzel disagreed with that
“I don’t think it’s the board bullying here. I think the board has been bullied,” he said.
“From what I’ve seen here, it seems that somebody wants to control the entire agenda of the board.”
Piscitelli said he plans to talk with his wife and legal counsel before deciding on any formal response, but does plan to continue to push for admitting non-Catholics and doing more for LGBTQ staff and students.
“I plan to keep raising issues at the board table when opportunities arise,” he said.
“I want to keep talking about the issues.”
Piscitelli previously raised the issue of supports for LGBTQ students last year, when he suggested creating gay-straight alliance groups at WCDSB high schools.
No action was taken as other trustees said groups currently exist in the schools which provide the same function under a different name.