In accordance with the Education Act provisions which allow the Board of Trustees to set the minimum requirements for attendance at meetings, the Board of Trustees of the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) supports the policy that Board of Trustees Members (“Trustees”) and Student Trustee(s) shall be physically present at Regular Board of Trustees Meetings (“Board Meetings”) and Committee Meetings each year beginning November 15 to November 14 of the following year (the “Annual Term”) for no less than the number of meetings mandated therein.
Nothing in this policy shall apply to limit the DSBN’s duty to accommodate a Trustee or Student Trustee in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The Education Act provides that if a Trustee absents themself from three (3) consecutive regular Board Meetings without being authorized by resolution entered in the Board of Trustees minutes, the Trustee vacates their seat.
Further, Trustees must be physically present in the meeting room of the DSBN for at least three (3) regular Board Meetings in each 12-month Annual Term. The following exceptions apply:
When a Trustee is elected or appointed to fill a vacancy, the individual must be physically present in the meeting room for at least one regular Board Meeting for each period of four (4) full calendar months from the period beginning on the day the Trustee is elected to the end of the current year’s term, subject to the same exceptions regarding orders for school closures as set out above.
The Board of Trustees recognizes that circumstances may arise that prevent the attendance of Trustees and Student Trustees from being physically present at Board Meetings or at Committee Meetings.
In these circumstances, in the interest of ensuring that a quorum is reached and providing for the maximum opportunity for participation by Trustees and Student Trustees, the DSBN shall provide the electronic means for remote participation through the establishment of telephone conference call connections and/or virtual format as used by the DSBN (such as MS Teams).
Permission must be granted in advance by the Chair of the Board of Trustees to join a meeting by electronic means for remote participation. Such requests would normally be made at least twenty-four hours before the scheduled meeting. The Chair may refuse a Trustee’s or Student Trustee’s request to participate by electronic means for remote participation where it is necessary to comply with the requirements for physical presence as noted above.
Trustees who participate remotely through electronic means shall be deemed to be present at the meeting.
As set out in the Regulations, the electronic means for remote participation shall permit the Trustee or Student Trustee to hear and be heard by all other participants in the meeting and must be provided in a way to be in compliance with the rules governing conflict of interest.
Trustees and Student Trustees who participate remotely in Committee of the Whole (closed session) or Committee Meetings (closed session) must ensure the security and confidentiality of proceedings and shall affirm that:
Student Trustees who participate remotely through electronic means in the Committee of the Whole or Board Committee Meetings shall not participate in any proceedings that are closed to the public related to personal issues in accordance with the Education Act, s. 207(2)(b).
The meeting room for Board Meetings or Committee Meetings shall be open to permit physical attendance by members of the public, subject to the same exceptions regarding orders for school closures as set out above.
Further, the DSBN will make arrangements to allow the public to observe board meetings through electronic means, which includes permitting members of the public to hear all other participants in the meeting and be heard by all other participants in the meeting, where permitted by the DSBN’s By-laws and Rules of Order (e.g., Delegations).
In the event a Trustee is unable to attend a Committee Meeting, the Trustee or the Committee Chair shall make every effort to find an alternate Trustee to attend as their designated replacement and shall notify the Committee Chair of the name of the designated Trustee. If a designate has not been named, then the Committee Chair will have the right to designate another Trustee. The designated replacement will have all voting privileges.