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OCDSB upholds code of conduct complaint against Trustee Kaplan-Myrth following appeal

Ottawa’s largest school board has upheld a code of conduct complaint against Trustee Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth after she filed an appeal, alleging the basis for the complaint was fraught with errors.

Last month, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustees voted unanimously to declare Kaplan-Myrth violated the board’s code of conduct based on comments she made on social media and at a heated meeting in September, during which she was facing a different code of conduct complaint that was not upheld.

Trustees also voted 10-1 to sanction Kaplan-Myrth for the breach, barring her from the next board meeting on Jan. 30 and from sitting on several committees for a period of three months, starting Jan. 1.

Kaplan-Myrth appealed. Her lawyer said the integrity commissioner’s report into her conduct was based on ‘faulty or incomplete findings of fact’ and ‘fundamental errors.’

“The report can be seen to illustrate Trustee Dr. Kaplan-Myrth’s central complaint that the Board has not taken seriously her concerns about antisemitism or its impact on her own safety so that instead of assuming any responsibility for these matters or of acknowledging any obligations of ‘allyship,’ it has instead sought to blame her for causing the problems and/or for making the Board look bad by raising these issues in public,” the appeal said.

Trustees met Tuesday night after committee of the whole to rule on the appeal. The board unanimously confirmed the determination that Kaplan-Myrth breached the code of conduct. The board also confirmed its decision regarding sanctions.

“It is important for the Board to hold itself accountable to the standard of behaviour that the community expects,” said board chair Lynn Scott. “Trustees have a number of important decisions to make concerning student learning in the months ahead. This has been a difficult issue and has distracted us from our primary work. With this matter fully addressed by the Board, we can re-focus our attention on student learning and well-being in OCDSB schools.”

Kaplan-Myrth, a family doctor who was elected trustee in 2022, has been the target of numerous antisemitic and misogynistic threats for her COVID-19 public health advocacy and for her position on LGBTQ2S+ rights and accommodations. She has been vocal on social media about the threats she has received, but has also been critical of her fellow trustees and the school board’s processes, which the integrity commissioner said was undermining public confidence in the OCDSB.

Speaking to CTV News Ottawa, Kaplan-Myrth accused the board of not listening to her.

“The fact that they will just double down and say, ‘No, we’re right; she shouldn’t speak,’ without even mentioning a word of the grounds of appeal, without even giving consideration to what my lawyer was saying was absolutely errors in terms of their legal opinions, as well as omissions — the double standard is pretty ironic,” she said.

Kaplan-Myrth will not be able to attend the Jan. 30 board meeting or sit on the Committee of the Whole, Committee of the Whole Budget, Ad Hoc Policy Review Committee, Advocacy Strategy Committee, and Advisory Committee on Equity until after March 30.

Kaplan-Myrth said she is reviewing her options with her lawyer and considering further legal action.

The school board says that all trustees are available to provide support to students and families, regardless of electoral zone. 

–With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Shaun Vardon.

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