Head Injury to Blame For Racial Behavior At York Region District School Board
The scandal ridden York Region District School Board met with emotional parents Tuesday night. Many parents in York Region are concerned about the level of accountability the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) currently has in place, and presented the YRDSB with a petition asking for the resignation of one of its Trustees over racism allegations. The YRDSB in recent months has been hit with several human rights complaints of systemic racism and bullying by staff members and students that are seemingly shrugged off by the upper ranks of the board and their trustees. Now the racism that was observed in one York Trustee is a result of banging her head on a foreign object according to official public records read in during Tuesday's meeting.
At issue; York Trustee Nancy Elgie was overheard by several throwing out a racial slur towards parent Charline Grant who was confronting the board in a meeting in November last year (get this) regarding racism.
On Tuesday night, parents and media packed the school board meeting looking to confront Elgie and the Board regarding systemic racism and bullying the board is currently observing. Elgie was supposed to be in attendance but wasn't there for "medical reasons". A very bizarre apology letter from Elgie was read aloud by the board in which Elgie blames her actions and words on a head injury (see PDF below).
Trustee Elgie is also my trustee. I'm a resident of Georgina, and I have been following the lack of school board accountability regarding racism since the 2009 Keswick High indecent. I have been in contact with Elgie several times over the years on several concerns I've had with the York Region District School Board's implementation of the "Safe Schools Act". The safe schools act is legislation that was put into place to help curb bullying and racism in Ontario schools by the province. Currently the Ministry of Education does not audit boards for compliance with this legislation nor tracks each boards programs to ensure the money is actually being spent on successful projects.
I have found Ms. Elgie to be rather combative and dismissive of several concerns I have brought up to her over the years regarding the conduct of the board and following through with proper legislation and law regarding safe schools legislation. I have heard from several parents locally here over the years, even wrote about one instance around this time last year where Elgie refused to respond to complaints within the system, often leaving parents and students to fend for themselves.
In the complaint I wrote about last year, Elgie in an interview for this blog and on the record blamed the parent for lying with no evidence to back that allegation up. She refused to fully look into the situation and provide any sort of advocacy on this family's behalf towards the school board and work towards any type of solution when questioned. Elgie stated eventually stated she would meet with the parent at a scheduled protest, but never showed up. This is something that over the years seems to be a common theme with Trustee Elgie.
In one instance while I was questioning Elgie on the Keswick High situation in 2009, Elgie claimed on the record I was bullying her when requesting a full break down of the boards budget around the Safe Schools programs supposed to be implemented by the board under legislation to fight acts of racism and bullying. As a result she would refuse any further requests for that information and completely cut off any communication with me on the subject. The board quoted close to $900 for that information through freedom of information, which is why I had approached Elgie on trying to obtain this information since it should be publicly available on the boards website. To this day a full and complete break down of the money allocated to safe schools and tracking of those programs is still not posted on the boards website.
A trustee's job is the public overseer of the school board. They are there to hold the board accountable on our behalf. Too often than not I hear from parents across the province where trustees turn into lap dogs for the school board. That can be clearly observed at the YRDSB, when just last year trustees voted to approve an unprecedented 10 year contract and a 40% wage increase to their current director Parappally, after only being on the job for a year and a half. Not one board across the province as granted a decade long contract, let alone a contract of any length to a director that has been on the job at that length of time.
Last year it was also revealed that Trustees at the York Board took advantage of traveling overseas at the expense of the board with little to no value added for those trips. The Ministry of Education put a moratorium on York Trustees travel expenses and just a few months after that was lifted, Elgie took her 3rd trip to Finland and was unable to come up with any benefit the trip had towards the board when questioned by media. The systemic racism that parents have been reporting to their trustees, as well as trustee expenses are now currently under investigation by the Ministry of Education.
It's almost a full circle. Parents for many years have had to sit and watch as this board protects its image rather than the children within it. As parents have sat helpless in bringing in accountability and change to a board that puts its public image above everything else, the YRDSB now looks at Elgie and the damage she has caused to the reputation of the YRDSB. The longer Elgie stays on as a trustee, the more and more damage is done to the Boards reputation, and there is nothing meaningful enough the Board can do to force that accountability on Elgie to save its own reputation from this women. It's Elgie's lone choice to resign or not. How fitting for a board who is obsessed with its own image over that of the safety of its students, to not be in the position to control the public perception of it.
Update January 26th, 2017: Today the Ontario Ministry of Education has appointed two investigators to urgently look at systemic governance issues at the board along side a legislative compliance audit.