York region school board sued over allegations of racist bullying
The York Region District School Board is being sued for a million dollars over allegations of racism.
A Grade 9 student claims he was harrassed and physically beaten over the colour of his skin.
The boy's mother also claims she repeatedly pleaded with staff at Dr. J.M. Denison Secondary School in Newmarket that something needed to be done but they didn't take her seriously.
"He and his mother and his grandparents on numerous occasions, at least eight or nine occasions between November and March, report this to the school saying 'this is what's going on, we need help," explains the family's lawyer Darryl Singer.
Nothing much was done outside of the school moving the boy's locker to the basement. "It's the only hallway where the lockers aren't monitored by closed-circuit cameras. So, the school has been told that this kid's been taunted for months with anti-black racism and the kid's being attacked. Their answer is, in order to protect him we're going to move him to the one place in the school we can't see what's going on. This leads to more anti-black racism from the students and, ultimately, another attack where his head is smashed into a locker and he suffers a concussion," Singer says. "That results in the school saying 'You were involved, it was a back-and-forth, and you, too, will be suspended."
Finally in April the teen was transferred to another school. "He has feelings of, from time-to-time, of suicide. He, for weeks, refused to go to school at all and wouldn't even come out of his room," Singer adds.
The board has now said it is going to implement a new anti-racism policy that will hopefully be in place by September. "If my client's lawsuit accomplished that, that's great. But why did it take a lawsuit and media attention to do that?" questions Singer.