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Edmonton Catholic Trustee stands firm in opposition to superintendent salary

Board chair said she does not condone comments Patricia Grell made to Metro last month.

Edmonton Catholic School Board Trustee Patricia Grell.

Kevin Tuong / Metro

Edmonton Catholic School Board Trustee Patricia Grell.

An Edmonton Catholic School Board Trustee is not backing down after she was censured at a board meeting this week, in part for comments she made to Metro.

Board Chair Laura Thibert said Tuesday that Patricia Grell violated board policies when she spoke to Metro and CTV, and also posted a blog, about her opposition to Supt. Joan Carr’s $430,000 salary renewal.

Thibert stated that the board speaks with one voice and does not condone Grell's comments. She also said trustees acting against board policies will “no longer be tolerated.”

Undeterred, Grell posted another blog Wednesday explaining her actions and spoke with Metro later.

“It’s very bizarre what’s going on. To me, rules are being made up as we go along,” she said.

Grell said trustees have always been able to speak out when they disagree and she is starting to lose faith in the board’s leadership.

“I don’t think explaining to the public why you took the stand you did is ‘not speaking with one voice.’ It’s explaining to your constituents why you took a particular stand or made a particular motion or voted the way you did," she said. "That’s democracy."

Grell told Metro last month she was fighting to overturn the 4-3 vote that saw Supt. Carr’s contract renewed, citing a close vote and alleged conflict of interest involving Trustee Larry Kowalczyk – whose wife Eugenia is a principal in the district and works directly under Carr.

The board’s legal counsel had cleared Kowalczyk to vote, but Grell said the ethics commissioner later told her that the vote indeed constituted a conflict of interest.

Thibert said Grell’s comments had a “significant impact” on the personal wellbeing of Supt. Carr, Principal Kowalczyk and other school staff.

Thibert told Metro that trustees can state their opinions during board meetings, but as a governing board, trustees are bound by a single voice once a decision is made.

“When you’re on a board, yes you can have your opinion and yes you can state your opinion. But when the decision of the board is made, then you publicly support it,” she said.

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