Metro Morning

York region school board doing everything it can to tackle racism, chair says

York Region District School Board chair Loralea Carruthers says the board is doing everything it can to address claims of racism and Islamophobia in schools, despite claims from parents the board has no concrete plan.

Board chair says they need parents' confidence to move forward

YRDSB Chair Loralea Carruthers acknowledges the board still has a 'lot of work to do'. (CBC)

York Region District School Board chair Loralea Carruthers says the board is doing everything it can to address claims of racism and Islamophobia in schools.

In November, the province told the board it needed to come up with a plan to address the issues after a parent filed a formal complaint accusing an elementary school principal of sharing Islamophobic posts online. 

This week, YRDSB shared a letter in response to the province, outlining the board`s plans to address the problems. 

"We've been in an ongoing dialogue with parents to find out what is the basis of their concerns," said Carruthers in an interview on Metro Morning Friday. 

'Recent problem'

Carruthers says these are new problems for the board. 

"Our board has long-been a model board across the province," said Carruthers.

"On any assessments in any area across the province we get top marks ... This is a recent problem, this isn't something that's long-standing," she said.

"We've had policies in place for years that have been working wonderfully and suddenly things have gone off the rails." 

Parents unhappy with response

Parents call the York Region District School Board's plan to deal with racism insulting.

All we want is for our children to be in a school system where they feel safe," said parent Charline Grant. 

"If the director takes the importance of equity and racism and Islamophobia very seriously that will trickle down even to the students."

Grant and her husband, Garth Bobb, have three children who attend schools within the board and say they have filed dozens of complaints outlining instances when their oldest son was the target of anti-black racism. One of those complaints was about a teacher who allegedly told Grant's son's classmates, who were all Caucasian, to check their bags to ensure that the teen had not stolen anything.

Still, Carruthers said it's important that parents support the board as they implement a plan to address racism in York Region schools. 

"We need public confidence," she said.

Metro Morning

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