Student credit for Hamilton trustee electioneering clipped

News May 14, 2015 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board students may lose their ability to count politicking for trustee candidates toward the 40 hours of volunteering they must do to graduate from high school.

The board’s policy committee is recommending volunteering on trustee election campaigns be added to a standard Ministry of Education list of ineligible activities that includes home chores and work that is dangerous or replaces paid employment.

Greg Van Geffen, trustee for Dundas and west Flamborough, said allowing the practice gives incumbents an unfair advantage because of their access to schools and students.

“Just by the relationships that we’re creating as we fill our responsibilities as a trustee, there will be students that will want to come forward and be part of our campaign,” he said. “We have an unfair leg up versus someone who’s coming in to run against us.”

Trustees voted earlier this year to create a policy after a Hamilton Community News story questioned if they had a conflict of interest in crediting volunteering on trustee campaigns.

Sarah Warry-Poljanski, an unsuccessful Ward 7 candidate last fall’s municipal election, drew attention to the issue when she sent out an email touting the number of students who earned credit for helping on her campaign.

Manny Figueiredo, executive superintendent of leadership and learning, said the board’s eligibility list is based on one developed by public boards years ago.

Catholic boards, including Hamilton’s, expressly prohibit electioneering as an eligible activity, focusing volunteering on Christian service.

The Hamilton public board’s six broad categories include volunteering for “a political organization” that seeks “to make a positive and ethical contribution to the community.”

Board chair Todd White said he believes volunteering on federal, provincial and municipal campaigns should continue to qualify because student political engagement is incredibly important and needs to be encouraged at all levels.

“However, when we speak about trustee campaigns or trustee candidate campaigns there could be a perceived conflict of interest,” he said.

“Another way of looking at it, from a student’s point of view, is a student could be unfairly used to get a trustee elected to do the job of governing.”

To make it easier for students to determine if their volunteering qualifies, the committee is recommending the proposed policy include a website link to a master list of eligible activities that don’t require prior approval from their school’s principal.

Ward 7 trustee Dawn Danko said the board needs a very clearly defined list because some students who thought their activity qualified only learned after the fact that it didn’t.

Student credit for Hamilton trustee electioneering clipped

News May 14, 2015 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board students may lose their ability to count politicking for trustee candidates toward the 40 hours of volunteering they must do to graduate from high school.

The board’s policy committee is recommending volunteering on trustee election campaigns be added to a standard Ministry of Education list of ineligible activities that includes home chores and work that is dangerous or replaces paid employment.

Greg Van Geffen, trustee for Dundas and west Flamborough, said allowing the practice gives incumbents an unfair advantage because of their access to schools and students.

“Just by the relationships that we’re creating as we fill our responsibilities as a trustee, there will be students that will want to come forward and be part of our campaign,” he said. “We have an unfair leg up versus someone who’s coming in to run against us.”

“We have an unfair leg up versus someone who’s coming in to run against us."

Trustees voted earlier this year to create a policy after a Hamilton Community News story questioned if they had a conflict of interest in crediting volunteering on trustee campaigns.

Sarah Warry-Poljanski, an unsuccessful Ward 7 candidate last fall’s municipal election, drew attention to the issue when she sent out an email touting the number of students who earned credit for helping on her campaign.

Manny Figueiredo, executive superintendent of leadership and learning, said the board’s eligibility list is based on one developed by public boards years ago.

Catholic boards, including Hamilton’s, expressly prohibit electioneering as an eligible activity, focusing volunteering on Christian service.

The Hamilton public board’s six broad categories include volunteering for “a political organization” that seeks “to make a positive and ethical contribution to the community.”

Board chair Todd White said he believes volunteering on federal, provincial and municipal campaigns should continue to qualify because student political engagement is incredibly important and needs to be encouraged at all levels.

“However, when we speak about trustee campaigns or trustee candidate campaigns there could be a perceived conflict of interest,” he said.

“Another way of looking at it, from a student’s point of view, is a student could be unfairly used to get a trustee elected to do the job of governing.”

To make it easier for students to determine if their volunteering qualifies, the committee is recommending the proposed policy include a website link to a master list of eligible activities that don’t require prior approval from their school’s principal.

Ward 7 trustee Dawn Danko said the board needs a very clearly defined list because some students who thought their activity qualified only learned after the fact that it didn’t.

Student credit for Hamilton trustee electioneering clipped

News May 14, 2015 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board students may lose their ability to count politicking for trustee candidates toward the 40 hours of volunteering they must do to graduate from high school.

The board’s policy committee is recommending volunteering on trustee election campaigns be added to a standard Ministry of Education list of ineligible activities that includes home chores and work that is dangerous or replaces paid employment.

Greg Van Geffen, trustee for Dundas and west Flamborough, said allowing the practice gives incumbents an unfair advantage because of their access to schools and students.

“Just by the relationships that we’re creating as we fill our responsibilities as a trustee, there will be students that will want to come forward and be part of our campaign,” he said. “We have an unfair leg up versus someone who’s coming in to run against us.”

“We have an unfair leg up versus someone who’s coming in to run against us."

Trustees voted earlier this year to create a policy after a Hamilton Community News story questioned if they had a conflict of interest in crediting volunteering on trustee campaigns.

Sarah Warry-Poljanski, an unsuccessful Ward 7 candidate last fall’s municipal election, drew attention to the issue when she sent out an email touting the number of students who earned credit for helping on her campaign.

Manny Figueiredo, executive superintendent of leadership and learning, said the board’s eligibility list is based on one developed by public boards years ago.

Catholic boards, including Hamilton’s, expressly prohibit electioneering as an eligible activity, focusing volunteering on Christian service.

The Hamilton public board’s six broad categories include volunteering for “a political organization” that seeks “to make a positive and ethical contribution to the community.”

Board chair Todd White said he believes volunteering on federal, provincial and municipal campaigns should continue to qualify because student political engagement is incredibly important and needs to be encouraged at all levels.

“However, when we speak about trustee campaigns or trustee candidate campaigns there could be a perceived conflict of interest,” he said.

“Another way of looking at it, from a student’s point of view, is a student could be unfairly used to get a trustee elected to do the job of governing.”

To make it easier for students to determine if their volunteering qualifies, the committee is recommending the proposed policy include a website link to a master list of eligible activities that don’t require prior approval from their school’s principal.

Ward 7 trustee Dawn Danko said the board needs a very clearly defined list because some students who thought their activity qualified only learned after the fact that it didn’t.