Categorized | Education

TDSB appoints Abdul Patel as newest trustee

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

A retired imam from Scarborough who has worked closely with the Toronto District School Board on issues related to faith, equity and human rights has become the board’s newest trustee.

The appointment of Abdul Patel makes him the third person to hold the trustee’s position for Scarborough-Rouge River since the last round of municipal elections in 2014.

Patel, 68, speaks four languages and describes himself as a full-time community volunteer, longtime Scarborough resident and father of three children who graduated from TDSB schools.

“I am ready to bring my energy and time to this important role and serve the residents of Ward 21 with integrity,” he said in a statement, adding that he wants to make sure “the same opportunities my children received in the public system are there for future generations.”

His appointment fills the seat vacated in February by Neethan Shan, who became a Toronto city councillor after defeating 28 other candidates in a byelection.

Shan held his trustee position for only a year, which he also won in a byelection to replace nine-year trustee Shaun Chen when he ran successfully for the federal Liberals in 2015.

With Shan’s departure, the board faced the choice of either holding another byelection, which is typically done when there are more than two years remaining in a four-year term, or appointing a replacement. Last month, trustees decided to appoint given the proximity of the 2018 election and the costs — between $220,000 and $320,000 for a byelection versus a maximum of $50,000 for an appointment.

Patel, one of 91 applicants, brings some understanding of the board to his new role, which comes with an honorarium of $25,507 a year and a discretionary budget of $11,780. He helped develop the TDSB’s first faith accommodation guide, and is currently a member of its equity policy advisory committee.

Patel has also been active in the interfaith community through the Canadian Council of Imams and other groups, was a commissioner for the Ontario Human Rights Commission and a police chaplain.

“Abdul has experience, strong Scarborough community roots and is an advocate for public education,” said TDSB chair Robin Pilkey. “He’s perfectly suited for the job.”

The news came the same night the board approved a balanced budget plan for the 2017-18 school year, achieved without cuts to the $3.2-billion operating budget as a result of stable student enrolment over the last three years.

Pilkey said the financial stability comes after 20 years of budget constraints. Additional funding for the next school year announced by the province last week will mean more staff for services such as special education, according to the board.

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