Mother and son receive apology from Edmonton Catholic Schools for do-rag feud
Dispute started last fall when a staffer connected boy's do-rag to gang affiliation
Eight months after an 11-year-old Edmonton boy wore a do-rag to school, prompting questions about his possible gang affiliation, the boy's mother has accepted an apology from the Edmonton Catholic School Board.
Last September, the boy was asked to take off his do-rag at his school, Christ the King Catholic Elementary. A school adviser connected it to gang affiliation, sparking the months-long protest by his mother and community supporters.
"We recognize that it is inappropriate to associate [do-rags] with gang affiliation without there being any other indication of gang affiliation," states the apology, which was posted this week to a Facebook page called Justice for Emmell.
"We will continue to review our dress code policy, and as part of that review will commit to include further discussions as to the inclusion and acceptance of culturally significant garments including [do-rags]."
Advocate Bashir Mohamed posted the document Wednesday to Twitter and a Facebook page supporting Una Momolu and her son Emmell.
Dana Prefontaine, a spokesperson for Edmonton Catholic Schools, confirmed the apology was issued. She said the board declined to comment.
Mohamed said Momolu received the apology last week before signing off on it on Tuesday. Momolu could not be reached for comment.
"For months it seemed like it would be impossible to make any progress with the school board," Mohamed wrote on the Justice for Emmell page. "But thanks to Una and Emmell's determination, along with your passionate support, all three demands were met."
Momolu had been banned from Christ The King School after a heated meeting with the principal that led to police being called and the school being put on lockdown. The ban was lifted in December.
- School board lifts ban on mother in do-rag feud, denies conduct was racially motivated
- Family calls for apology from school after boy, 11, faces gang questions over do-rag
Community members protested in support of the family and attended school board meetings demanding an apology.
Momolu declined to accept two previous apologies issued by the board, citing a lack of sincerity and lack of acknowledgment of race playing a part in the incident.
'A position of mutual respect'
The accepted apology says division officials have reflected on the incident and have learned that more effort should have been made to "interpret and resolve" Momolu's concerns.
"Discussing and resolving parent concerns is a priority for us," the document says. "We believe that greater diligence in this regard, including more contact with Ms. Momolu, would have allowed for more openness and resolve and for that, we sincerely apologize."
The board acknowledges in the document that Emmell considered the do-rag "to be a reasonable personal expression of his culture and that Ms. Momolu and Emmell consider his [do-rag] to be a culturally significant garment."
The apology says the school division will strive to do better in the future.
"As part of this commitment, training focused on de-escalation strategies is planned for administrators in the fall of 2020. We must always come to these situations from a position of mutual respect with our parents."
The document also says consultations about the dress-code policy will include input from community members, including Momolu and her son.