SOURCE: Ombudsman Ontario

Ombudsman Ontario

September 26, 2016 14:07 ET

Ombudsman to Investigate Toronto School Busing Issues

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - September 26, 2016) - Ombudsman Paul Dubé today announced his office will conduct a systemic investigation into recent school busing problems at the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board.

The investigation will focus on whether the boards' oversight of student transportation and their response to delays and disruptions at the start of the 2016-2017 school year was adequate.

"Nearly four weeks into the school year, we continue to receive complaints from frustrated families who are experiencing chronic delays or are repeatedly forced to scramble to get children to school when their buses don't show up," Mr. Dubé said.

Both boards have received formal notice and the Ombudsman's team of investigators will now conduct interviews with relevant officials and witnesses, and gather all relevant information from the boards and their transportation consortium. The investigation will be completed as quickly as possible, Mr. Dubé said.

"Our primary focus will be on what happened with these two boards, leading up to and during the present situation. We will look at what the boards knew about possible transportation problems, how they responded and, communicated with parents, and what can be done to prevent such problems in future," he said.

Noting that a few of the 49 complaints received about this issue to date related to other boards and broader issues, the Ombudsman said his office will keep an eye on those while moving ahead with the Toronto-focused probe.

"We have had a few complaints about busing in other areas, and some indicating there is a broader problem with the school transportation procurement process across the province," he said. "As we determine what happened in Toronto, we will be able to evaluate whether it's necessary to look at broader issues."

Anyone who has information relevant to the investigation can contact the Ombudsman's office through the online complaint form at www.ombudsman.on.ca, or by phone (1-800-263-1830) or email (info@ombudsman.on.ca).

The Ombudsman's mandate was expanded to include oversight of all Ontario school boards as of September 1, 2015, and it has received more than 800 complaints about them to date. This is the first formal investigation of school boards; other cases were quickly resolved and closed.

The Ombudsman is an independent, impartial Office of the Legislature that oversees Ontario government organizations (including the Ministry of Education), as well as municipalities and universities. The Ombudsman recommends constructive solutions to individual and systemic administrative problems.

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