In a move recommended following the Ombudsman’s investigation into the Near North District School Board’s decision to close Widdifield Secondary School, another vote will be held in late September to decide the public secondary school structure in North Bay.

The NNDSB says it has commenced implementing the recommendations contained in the Ombudsman’s Final Report. In addition to a number of recommendations for improved process and governance, the following recommendation was identified with respect to the Secondary School Consolidation:

“The Near North District School Board should prepare a new final staff report that explains the additional information received in the summer of 2017 and that was discussed in private in September 2017. It should present the report to trustees as part of a public meeting, afford community members an opportunity to comment on it, and then take a new vote on the secondary school consolidation.”

See related story: Transparency, public input recommended as Widdifield decision is revisited

The new final staff report and attached documentation will be presented to the Board of Trustees at a Special Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday at 6:00pm. Following this meeting, the report and attached documentation will be posted to the NNNDSB website in order to provide the public with an opportunity to review and provide comments.

Any comments received during this process will then be compiled and presented to the Board of Trustees at the Committee of the Whole on September 10, at 6:00pm. Parties who wish to speak to the secondary school consolidation will need to register with the Board Office by 12:00pm on Friday, September 6.

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé called on the NNDSB to “revisit its decision to close North Bay’s Widdifield Secondary School after his latest investigation determined that the board failed to follow a fair and transparent process.”

The Ombudsman finds the “contentious” September 2017 decision to close Widdifield instead of Chippewa (identified as the preferred school to close during the ARC process) was the “result of actions that were unreasonable, unjust, wrong and contrary to law.” According to the office of the Ombudsman, 11 complaints about the Widdifield decision were received in the spring of 2018.

The Board of Trustees will re-vote on the secondary school consolidation at the Regular Board Meeting on Tuesday, September 24, beginning at 6:00pm.