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A rape threat and a racial slur allegedly sent in two notes to a local Black student have sparked an investigation at the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB), with a local parent advocacy group calling on members of the community to demand action.
According to a blog post which was shared on Facebook and Instagram on Oct. 20 by Parents Against Racism – Simcoe County and Toronto group Parents of Black Children, the advocacy group shared a recent story brought to them by a family whose child allegedly experienced bullying at a school in Simcoe County.
The school and identity of the student are not in the posting, to protect the family’s privacy.
The first note reads, “Go kill yourself dick head” with a racial slur on the bottom. The second note reads, “Shut up, I’ll rape you in the bathroom.”
A photo of both notes accompanies the posting.
“This morning, a little girl will be forced sit in class beside her abusers,” Parents of Black Children wrote in their social media post.
“The boys were suspended from school, but administrators are ill-equipped. ... Her teacher, while she sat in the same classroom, stood in front of the class and told these elementary students that the boys should be forgiven for the rape threat and the n-word. This is Ontario’s Education system,” reads their posting. “We demand her protection. We demand removal of those who threaten violence against her.”
The posting calls upon SCDSB director of education John Dance and Education Minister Stephen Lecce to remove the students who wrote the notes, and calls for the removal of educators and administrators “who are just as culpable and safety for her and all Black students in @scdsb schools.”
Gillian Scobie with Parents Against Racism – Simcoe County says the story is one of many the group hears regularly through their advocacy.
“What we’re realizing is this is happening very often, and it is being swept under and not dealt with,” said Scobie. “A lot of parents don’t know how to navigate the system. A lot of children are so used to being abused this way. They’re going to schools that basically allow this to happen everyday.
“How do you go back into that space? As far as I’m concerned, these are hate crimes,” she added.
In response to a request for an interview with Simcoe County District School Board staff on the matter, communications manager Sarah Kekewich instead sent a statement.
“The allegations and issues that are being shared on social media are deeply troubling and concerning to the Simcoe County District School Board. We are conducting a thorough investigation with the support of an outside agency,” Kekewich wrote in the statement.
Kekewich said the board could not comment on the details of the incident due to privacy concerns.
“It is important to stress that any incident of this nature is treated very seriously with immediate action and consequences. Reported situations that involve acts of racism, bias or hate are thoroughly investigated by school administration and the central equity, diversity and inclusion department, and may include the support of outside agencies and community partners,” she said.
Kekewich pointed to work undertaken at the board this year to address anti-Black racism in SCDSB schools, including mandatory professional learning for all staff focused on anti-racism, anti-oppression, human rights, unconscious bias, discrimination and aggressions, development of further student resources, the recruitment of a human rights and equity advisor for the SCDSB, the hiring of two Black graduation coaches and the completion of an equity audit and student census.
“We acknowledge that there remains much work to be done as we strive to meet the needs of our students and staff,” wrote Kekewich.
Representatives from Parents Against Racism – Simcoe County put a reporter in touch with lawyers who they say are the victim’s family’s legal representation. Darryl Singer and Nadia Condotta of Diamond and Diamond did not return a request for comment prior to publication.
— With files from Nikki Cole