Sunday, November 22, 2020

School board dismisses code of conduct complaints against two trustees

Trustee Donna Blackburn during a Special Board Meeting at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board on March 1,2017. Errol McGihon/Postmedia

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Ottawa-Carleton District School board trustee Lyra Evans. Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

Evans had argued that police should not be in schools because racialized, Indigenous and marginalized students who have had negative experiences with police find their presence intimidating or frightening.

Evans said allowing police to work at schools contributes to the over-policing of those communities and upholds systemic racism at the school board.

During the debate, the board also heard there was support for the police resource officer program, which was set up to build bridges with those same communities.

Trustees decided they would make no changes to the police program until a wide consultation was held, including talking with students at the schools.

After the meeting, Evans tweeted that trustees had voted “in favour of putting extra police in high needs, low income, disproportionately racialized schools” and gave a “shoutout” to trustees Bell and Chris Ellis for “joining me in opposing systemic racism.”

Bell retweeted the post, then later posted a clarification explaining the board made the decision because it wanted to conduct a review and didn’t have sufficient information.

Blackburn filed complaints against Evans and Bell, saying that the tweet by Evans was both factually inaccurate and suggested the trustees who had voted against Evans’s position were upholding systemic racism.

OTTAWA - Justine Bell poses for a photo in Ottawa Thursday Sept 17 2020. Justine is a trustee at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board who has her daughter Shanti in kindergarten. She is concerned about class sizes, and has asked staff for a cost estimate of reducing kinder classes to 15.     Tony Caldwell
Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee Justine Bell. Photo by Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

The board voted to keep things the same, not to put “extra” officers into the schools or against community supports, said Blackburn’s complaint.

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