TDSB names rookie trustee Robin Pilkey as new chair – Toronto

TORONTO — A first-term trustee is taking over as chair of the largest school board in Canada.

Parkdale-High Park trustee Robin Pilkey was acclaimed as the head of the Toronto District School Board during a special meeting Wednesday.

Pilkey was the lone candidate looking to fill the shoes of outgoing chair Shaun Chen, who’s leaving to run for federal office as the Liberal candidate in the new riding of Scarborough North.

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She steps straight into a difficult position, as head of an embattled board and with ongoing labour issues unresolved with just 27 days until the start of the school year. Nonetheless, she sounded cautiously positive after her win.

“I want to offer my sincere thanks to my fellow trustees for placing their faith in me as Chair — a role that I approach with both a fresh perspective and a renewed sense of optimism,” she said after her win.

“While there are challenges ahead, I’m confident that our Board will meet them head on.”

Among those challenges is an upcoming report by former Toronto mayor Barbara Hall, examining the structure of governance of the board plagued by infighting. An external review published last January said a “culture of fear” permeated the board, leading to paranoia and mistrust.

Pilkey serves an abbreviated term that runs until November 30, when the board holds a full election.

Acting chair Sheila Cary-Meagher will resume her duties as vice-chair and the next board meeting takes place on August 26.

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