- Elliot Dixon-Williamson
DDSB Workplace Harassment Investigation
Chances are you haven’t heard about the large workplace harassment investigation that began last summer within upper level management at the Durham District School Board. This is because the DDSB has failed to make the details of this investigation public and has been actively attempting to cover it up.
The Director of Education, Lisa Millar, and the former Assistant Director of Education, David Visser, along with other senior employees were accused of creating a toxic workplace in which some employees were favored and others were bullied. The investigation was started in the summer of 2019 after complaints from staff led DDSB trustees to host a closed door meeting where they voted unanimously to contact the Ministry of Education for the “temporary support of an external facilitator/advisor,” to help review and improve “practices and processes.”
The DDSB has failed to comment on details regarding the exact nature of the issues. They stated that since the harassment did not directly impact the well being of students, the investigation’s findings should not be made public, or be shared with the staff that were supposedly impacted.
"In this instance, the nature of the issues did not directly impact the education and well-being of our students. Therefore, we have been and continue to be restricted in our ability to comment." Statement issued by DDSB communications department when asked about investigation
After the investigation had concluded, those involved faced zero consequences. Shortly after, on January 28th, the DDSB announced that Lisa Millar left the board to focus on her health and has since been on an indefinite paid leave with pneumonia.With regards to pay, in 2018 Lisa received a 49.6% raise. This large raise came just months before she was accused of workplace harassment by staff.
Lisa worked closely with Assistant Director of education David Visser, who experienced a $40,000 raise in 2018. Visser has since quietly retired from the board with no consequences. The reports from the investigation along with many complaints from staff obtained by other news outlets allege that the two worked together along with others in senior management to bully certain staff and favour others, creating a “duopoly of power” that was “troubling and intimidating” for members of the leadership team, according to the summary of the investigations findings. They supposedly worked as a team to suppress backlash from staff while harassing those below them. Specific examples are lacking as the DDSB decided not to make all details of the investigation public.
In my opinion, it's obvious that top ranking management at the Durham District School Board are guilty of workplace harassment, and yet they have faced no consequences. Instead of being open and honest with the people they are supposed to serve, the School Board has actively attempted to hide the results of the investigation from their own staff and the public. The organization in charge of our education should be transparent and trusted by the public, yet they fail to even adhere to the core values taught within their own classrooms.