BURLINGTON - The Halton Catholic district School Board owns two registered charities (HCDSB and HCCEF), and has a long history of mismanaging the charities it controls. Given the Board's recent decision to favour it's charities to the exclusion of others you might want to know some of their darkest secrets and consider boycotting them altogether.
1. Transparency isn't the hallmark of Halton Catholic trustees. In 2001 the HCDSB charity violated charity rules by giving money to a conservative political party. No one knew trustees were spending charity money to go to conservative party dinners. It was investigated by the charities branch of the Canadian Revenue Agency (after a public complaint) for mismanagement and was threatened with revocation. At the time the Director of Education Fred Sweeney told the Hamilton Spectator the board wasn't a registered charity - the CRA told him it was. Fred Sweeney currently runs the board's newest charity the HCCEF
2. The Board loves making charities.The Board used to have another charity called the "Foundation For Excellence In Catholic Education" which had collected $203,193 by 2007. In 2007 it went dormant for undisclosed reasons and the board stopped using it until Director Mike Pautler tried to get the Board it's third charity in 2011. Why he wanted a third charity or why the board would allow it was never made public. The CRA denied Pautler's request and told him to rename the dormant charity which he did - it's now called The Halton Catholic Children's Education Foundation (HCCEF). Anyone would assume the $203,193 from the old charity would be transferred to the new (HCCEF) charity to be used in charitable works but it wasn't. All the money raised by students and staff disappears for a while.
3. The Lords giveth and the Lords taketh away. With no public announcement of any kind and with a little bookkeeping slight of hand for the benefit of the CRA, the school board gives the missing $203,193 to the new HCCEF charity and orders it to give the money back right away - every penny. See this hard to find link showing the HCCEF giving all the money back to the Board - more money than it has ever raised to date. Trustees authorized it all and never mentioned it publicly.
4. The Board always says it doesn't control HCCEF and that it is a "separate legal entity" of which it has no control. This is the biggest lie of all time. The Board created the HCCEF using their own lawyers, they appointed all the HCCEF board of directors with former HCDSB personnel, they comingle all their banking, they supply office space and supplies for the HCCEF at Assumption CSS and they are listed with the CRA as the parent organization of which the HCCEF is subordinate to.
5. Little known secret about the HCCEF. It has asked for and received permission from the CRA to accumulate funds without spending them on charitable works. That means it doesn't have to give out all the money it receives in a year and that it can "save" a large stash of cash for some later date. This has never been publicly disclosed by trustees. So if you think the money you gave for civvies day will go directly that month to someone who needs it, think again, it may well end up back at the board like it did years before.
6. Paid Civvies days at school are the longest running scam in Board history. It is provincial law that students have the right not to donate money in a school and not suffer any consequences if they choose not to donate. But students who don't pay up on civvies days are often told they must wear their uniform or pay.
7. Marc Claire is officially listed by the CRA as a "part time" employee of the HCCEF. The HCCEF reported paying him $62,136 plus expenses in 2017 - this part time employee got a 15% raise in 2017 even though the charity is losing money. This makes him the highest paid part time employee working at the HCDSB.
8. Trustee's can't be transparent if they don't watch what is going on. Case in point, the difference in financial statements published in 2017 by the HCCEF and financial statements on the CRA website. HCCEF says it spent $44,081 on charitable activities while the CRA says they spent $440,814 - adding a zero is a common mistake but adding a "4" ? which one is right? . The isn't the first time the HCCEF has had to refile with the CRA because of inaccuracies, showing time and again where and how a board charity spends money is not to be relied on no matter how many times a trustee claims there will be transparency. No trustee has ever reported a financial mistake of any of it's charities although there have been many.
9. The Board tells principals to donate to the HCCEF. The Board tells all schools to buy a table of ten for the Bishops dinner at a cost of $75 per ticket. The schools take the money out of what's called SGF's - (school generated funds.) That means on civvies day your money is going to send the principal to a fancy dinner with 9 of his or her closest friends. Few school principals refuse this request and students have no knowledge of it, therefore there is no transparency.
10. The HCDSB takes money out of general revenue to give to the HCCEF on a yearly basis and covers many of it's expenses - there is never any public detailing or disclosure of this. Last year the HCCEF revenues increased by 45% under "other contributions" It is never broken down further to see who is actually doing the donating. Is it a school? Is it big pharma? Is it the Board itself? nobody knows.
As always the HCDSB NEWS invites your corrections, comments and criticisms and any replies received from people or institutions mentioned in any article will be published.