Mom who was called racial slur by school trustee gets apology
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, May 18, 2017 10:43AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 18, 2017 4:15PM EDT
The York Region District School Board has agreed to formally apologize to a mother who filed three human rights complaints over racism she said she encountered in dealings with her children’s school and the board.
Charline Grant filed the complaints over the past year.
The complaints pertained to discrimination that she said her son was subjected to by teachers and staff at his school as well as a widely-publicized incident in November in which a trustee was overheard using a racial slur to refer to Grant.
That trustee, Nancy Elgie, resigned in February after months of public outcry.
Elgie, 82, had previously taken a leave of absence to deal with lingering symptoms from a concussion that she said had caused her to mix up words.
“From day one all we wanted was an acknowledgement and an apology. This settlement was right in line with what our message has been from day one,” Grant told CP24 on Thursday. “The apology is a big deal. Having the board acknowledge that what they did was wrong and have them acknowledge that in print, I am happy with.”
In addition to issuing an apology to Grant that will be published on its website and read aloud at an upcoming meeting, the board has also agreed to take a number of steps to tackle racism.
Those steps include already ongoing efforts to establish a human rights office that will collect and distribute equity-related data, the introduction of mandatory human rights training for all staff who deal with complaints and the introduction of a new two-day workshop focused on delivering educational programing to racialized students.
As part of its apology, the board will also be required to acknowledge that its response to human rights complaints has in the past been "hostile, dismissive, arrogant and inappropriate.”
In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, YRDSB Chair Loralea Carruthers said the board wants to make sure that no other families go through what Grant’s family did.
“We are sorry that the family has gone through this experience and are pleased to have reached a mutually agreeable settlement. We are focused on ensuring no other family goes through this,” the statement said.
Settlement follows scathing report
The settlement comes one month after the release of a scathing report into the activities of the board that was ordered in the wake of incidents of racism and Islamophobia.
That report, which led to the resignation of the YRDSB’s director of education, detailed numerous instances of discrimination at the board and suggested that some trustees lack even “basic understanding of their role and responsibilities as elected leaders.”
Speaking with CP24, Grant said she decided to settle with the board largely out of a desire to avoid a protracted dispute that her children would have been drawn into.
It is not known whether there is any financial penalty attached to the settlement.
“I did not want to put my children through cross examination and have them have to relieve this story,” Grant said. “I know how hurtful it has been for me whenever I have to tell this story so that was my driving force in settling.”