A coalition of community representatives join the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and Vaughan African Canadian Association (VACA) in welcoming today’s announcement by Ontario’s Education Minister establishing an independent review of the York District School Board (YRDSB).
“There have been significant and growing concerns from parents and community members regarding governance and equity issues in the York Region District School Board (YRDSB),” said Ontario’s Education Minister, Mitzie Hunter, in a statement.
“These include allegations of systemic racism, concerns about the board’s equity and inclusive education policies, accountability for spending on trustees’ international travel, and deteriorating relationships between the trustees, the director of education and the board’s senior staff [. . .] As a result, an urgent review of the board is needed.”
Last December, the NCCM and VACA filed human rights complaints against the YRDSB over the treatment of Black students and issues of Islamophobia. Since then, a senior board trustee admitted to using the N-word in describing Charline Grant, a parent who has also filed a human rights complaint about the treatment of her child in the board.
“This has been a long and difficult journey for us, and our family is hoping that there will finally be some accountability for how our son was treated. Our struggle has always been about ensuring that all students, no matter what their backgrounds or heritage, are treated with fairness and dignity. We welcome this review wholeheartedly,” says Grant.
“It’s clear that trust has been broken,” says NCCM Communications Director Amira Elghawaby. “The Minister’s decision to launch a review is being welcomed by many York families who now feel the serious concerns they have about their children’s well-being are being heard.”
“Today, Minister Hunter showed that she is going to right a wrong that has plagued our students and community for years,” says Shernett Martin, VACA executive director. “No longer can the YRDSB pretend to be a school Board that upholds equity and inclusion practices in public yet in private they don’t. Today is the day that healing begins and a new start is around the corner. We are putting our faith in Patrick Case and Suzanne Hebert along with the Ministry to get this right.”
“The myriad of reports from parents and students alleging acts of racism in York Region schools that were unheeded or mishandled could no longer be ignored,” adds Bernie Farber, executive director at the Mosaic Institute. “The parents of York Region who steadfastly and with great dignity advocated on behalf of their children should be applauded.”
“We look forward to the findings of the review,” says Naeem Siddiqi, on behalf of the YRDSB Kids group. “We hope they will provide the Ministry with the necessary information to institute real and meaningful change for all York students and their families.”
“We welcome this announcement from the Minister of Education. The appointment of reviewers who are highly respected in the community bodes well for a thorough analysis of the context at YRDSB,” says Nigel Barriffe, president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.
Representatives from the Chinese Canadian National Council (Toronto chapter), York Region Tamils, Stornoway Growth Society, and the Newmarket Parent Network, and others, have been supporting the families.