York Region principal apologizes for 'inappropriate' Facebook posts on Islam, refugees

An elementary school principal in the York Region District School Board has apologized for putting up a series of Facebook posts that offended students and parents.

Elementary school principal Ghada Sadaka wrote that sharing posts was 'discriminatory'

This Facebook post, shared on the page of principal Ghada Sadaka, was deemed offensive by some Muslim parents and students at her school in Markham. (Facebook)

An elementary school principal in the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) has apologized for putting up a series of Facebook posts that offended students and parents.

Ghada Sadaka, principal of Sir Wilfrid Laurier Public School in Markham, issued a statement Thursday apologizing for the things she'd shared online.

Her Facebook posts addressed Islam and refugees, including one that suggested that burkas should be banned in Europe since bikinis are banned in Muslim countries.

The posts were pulled down after complaints surfaced in September. 

"In the last two months, I have … learned a number of lessons about how sharing inappropriate posts on social media has affected those around me," she wrote in the statement.

York Region District School Board officials said this incident will be a chance to learn and grow. (York Region District School Board)

"Upon reflection, I accept sharing the posts was discriminatory, and should not have occurred."

Sadaka's statement was released within another statement by J. Philip Parappally, YRDSB's director of education.

"I appreciate Ms. Sadaka's statement, and believe all of us within the Board can use this as an opportunity to learn and grow," he wrote.

Apology comes after education minister stepped in 

The apology came after a Thursday meeting between Education Minister Mitzie Hunter and YRDSB leadership. 

In a statement from Hunter's office, a spokesperson wrote that "she used this opportunity to discuss her expectations of Ontario's publicly-funded education system to be one of inclusion." 

Hunter had pledged to meet with the board after receiving an open letter signed by community leaders, community members and the Ontario Federation of Labour criticizing the school board's handling of the issue. 

What's important is the principal put out this statement.- Licinio Miguelo, YRDSB spokesperson

Anger had mounted over the course of the fall among parents and community members over what they felt was a lack of transparency.

The YRDSB confirmed to CBC News in October that an investigation into Sadaka's posts had taken place, but declined to disclose the results. In an email, Trustee Billy Pang said because the probe was of "a personnel nature," he was not in a position to share any details.

Licinio Miguelo, the school board's spokesperson, reiterated that on Thursday and declined to share if Sadaka had faced any consequences or undergone any sensitivity training as the result of her social media posts. 

Education Minister Mitzie Hunter met with YRDSB leadership Thursday. (CBC)

"You're asking me questions that detail personnel issues. What's important is the principal put out this statement," he said. 

'It smells of political expediency' 

Parent Naeem Siddiqi described Sadaka's apology as a "good first step" in an email to CBC News, but criticized the school board's ongoing refusal to answer questions about the investigation.

Siddiqi said that the board's decision to put out Sadaka's apology at the same time as the meeting with the education minister "smells of political expediency," adding the board has "systematic problems and needs to institute sensitivity training." 

"It has treated parents badly with no accountability or transparency," Siddiqi said.