YRDSB to apologize to mother who filed human rights complaints against board
Rachael D'Amore, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, May 18, 2017 12:47PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 18, 2017 1:11PM EDT
The mother of a York Region student who was called a racial slur by a school trustee has settled her human rights case with the school board.
Charlene Grant filed three complaints against the York Region District School Board after the now former school trustee Nancy Elgie referred to her as a N----- during a board meeting in November of 2016.
Elgie, who later admitted to making the comment, stayed in her position for several weeks after the controversy came to a head. The long-term trustee was met with a fury of calls for her resignation.
The 82-year-old, who previously took a leave of absence to deal with a concussion, eventually resigned on Feb. 17.
In a video posted to YouTube, Elgie said she was “mortified” by what happened and apologized to Grant.
The York Region District School Board agreed Thursday to formally apologize to Grant for what she and her children have endured over the past few months. The apology will be published on the board’s website and read aloud by a trustee at an upcoming meeting.
“To actually get the board to apologize, I thought that was amazing. Initially, all our family ever wanted was an acknowledgement and an apology, all this other stuff is just gravy – icing on the cake,” Grant told CTV News Toronto on Thursday.
“We’ve never expected it to be this way or even go this is far, but this is where we are now.”
Grant said many of the things she hoped to achieve through the human rights complaints were addressed in a report delegated by Education Minister Mitzie Hunter.
Hunter stepped into the ring shortly after the Elgie’s slur made headlines and promptly called for an outside review of the controversy laced board.
Last month, the results of that investigation led to a scathing report about the numerous instances of discrimination at the board.
The report incited the resignation of the YRDSB’s director of education, J. Philip Parappally, and made 26 recommendations on how the board can improve.
It went on to blame trustees for failing to demonstrate “strong and ethical leadership,” citing a “culture of fear” within the board.
In its apology Thursday, the board also agreed to implement number of new initiatives to combat racism.
Those initiatives include:
- Establish a human rights office tasked with collecting and distributing equity-related data
- Mandatory training for all YRDSB staff on equity, human rights, racism, anti-oppression and anti-Black racism
- Hold a two-day workshop to discuss how the board can deliver “educational programming” to racialized students
- Form subcommittees where community members can participate in the discussion of issues pertaining to anti-Black racism and Islamophobia
Grant said she’s happy her battle with the board is coming to a close.
“I’ve always wanted to settle and just move past this and move onto something else,” she said.
“One of the things that I wanted was that I didn’t want this to happen to someone else. I know what I went through, it was heart-wrenching, it was draining. It’s been very hard on our family and I did not want that for someone else.”