On Friday, November 6, by the time you’re reading this, Marlene Jennings would have cleaned out her desk and vacated her office at the English Montreal School Board, where she has been serving as the government-appointed trustee over the past year.
When in November 2019, she answered the call from Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge to take over administration of the board, the EMSB was deemed to be operationally dysfunctional with widespread allegations of in-fighting among its 14 elected school commissioners and chairperson, Angela Mancini.
Jennings’s task was to take over the combined function and powers of the chairperson and the commissioners and with the assistance of consultants at the accounting and auditing firm Deloitte stabilize the operational environment at the EMSB and come up with a plan to restructure its administration.
Her mandate that was to have ended in May was renewed by the government for another six months.
So, on November 6, as she closes this chapter in the troubled history of the school board she says she is satisfied that she has accomplished what she was mandated to do.
“I think have been able to change what was a toxic environment for employees as well as modify the structure of governance, which I think contributed to the dysfunction of the board.”
In so doing, she says she has facilitated a new operational culture that has empowered the director-general, his staff, and other administrators to be more effective in carrying their duties.
Jennings lauds the supports she received from the entire administration and staff at the EMSB as well as her team of consultants from Deloitte for their collective efforts in helping to modify the school board’s operations and put it on a path for the future.
She spoke of the amazing relationships that she fostered with many of the staff, commissioners as well as with school principal, teachers, and parents.
As she has been mandated to do, Jennings submitted a list of recommendations aimed at restructuring the administration of the EMSB as well as improving operations within the institution.
Jennings a lawyer by training represented the federal Liberals in the riding that was NDG-Lachine from 1997 to 2011. From 2004 to October 2005, she was Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Paul Martin with special emphasis on Canada-U.S. relations. She also served as parliamentary secretary to the Minister for International Cooperation as well as to the Solicitor General of Canada.