The chairman of Canada's largest school board directed tens of thousands of dollars intended for a Toronto elementary school to his own charity, according to confidential internal reviews of spending during his tenure as principal.
The spending reviews, obtained by The Globe and Mail, are part of a series of internal investigations spanning four years that raise questions about Chris Bolton's dual roles at a school and a charity before he was elected a trustee of the Toronto District School Board, and conducted by the organization he now chairs.
None of the reports have been made public and some of them are labelled as drafts. However, their findings are summarized in a 2005 letter, addressed to Mr. Bolton and marked final, that accuses him of a breach of fiduciary duty and lays out a series of allegations that include "misappropriations of funds" and a lack of transparency. No action has been taken by the board.
Mr. Bolton defended his time as principal at Ryerson Community School, saying the school received donations in recognition of its track record for helping students, many of whom came from low-income families. "The money was used for good works in an inner-city community," he told The Globe.
While Mr. Bolton was principal of Ryerson Community School, his charity received the following donations that were intended for use by the school, according to documents obtained by The Globe.
Instead of having these funds go directly to the TDSB or Ryerson, they were directed to Mr. Bolton’s charity, Friends of Community Schools, which handled the money. The charity used $20,500 of the Atkinson grant to fund other community organizations instead of Ryerson, which was the intended recipient of the grant, according to documents.
Mr. Bolton’s charity deducted a 5-per-cent administrative fee from the donations, according to the report. The report says these costs would not have been charged and more money would have been available to Ryerson if the funds had initially gone to the TDSB. The TDSB became a registered charity in January, 1998, and it does not charge a management fee.
Mr. Bolton used his charity to procure a bus, which was then used by teachers at a fee lower than what TDSB would charge. The bus, which had mechanical problems, was owned by 1247550 Ontario Limited, which was controlled by Mr. Bolton.
The never-written book
The letter to Mr. Bolton from Keel Cottrell says Ryerson “has nothing to show” for $8,000 of the Atkinson proceeds. The funding was for a book commemorating the school's 125th anniversary. But the book was never written and the money, intended for disadvantaged students, was never recovered, the documents show.