VSB to draft policy against hate crimes, discrimination following racist video

Dec 7 2019, 8:00 am

The Vancouver School Board (VSB) will be looking into hiring an external field expert to create a policy against hate-motivated crimes within the district.

The topic was at the forefront the Police and Governance Committee meeting earlier this week,  which saw the discussion of two motions, as well as multiple parents who addressed the staff, trustees, and representatives.

Many of the parents in attendance spoke of the experience they and their children endured after a racist video that was made by a Lord Byng Secondary School student in 2018.

The video has since been taken down but reportedly showed a white student uttering slurs against Black people and stating his desire to line them up and throw an explosive at them.

The school board also addressed a potential human rights complaint from the BC Community Alliance (BCCA). The Vancouver anti-racism group filed a complaint about the way the VSB handled the situation.

“My family felt alone. We felt unsupported. We felt like we were actually bothering the people in charge at the VSB. We felt that everybody was relieved when we finally left the school,” said Suzanne Daley, when discussing her family’s experience during the meeting.

“That was our feeling after 10 months of emailing and writing and meetings. We felt everyone was relieved so they didn’t have to talk about racism or how it affected a 13-year-old child.”

In addition to the lack of support that Daley claims her family has struggled with, she says that her daughter was deemed the victim of a hate crime by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) in September 2019, nearly a year after the incident took place.

Another parent called for the protocol to prevent racist or hate-motivated incidents from taking place again.

“All children deserve a safe and caring environment for their education,” said one of the speakers.

One of the motions discussed during the meeting was introduced by Carmen Cho, a school board trustee.

Cho’s motion called for the Superintendent of Schools to create a plan which includes short, medium, and long-term actions to address racism and discrimination.

“The Board has passed and given notice of motion on a number of resolutions related to anti-racism and anti-discrimination,” she writes. “The work envisioned in this motion would encompass and encapsulate all of the motions into a unified strategic plan.”

“This will allow parents, students, staff, and stakeholders to have confidence in the policies and procedures that are in place.”

Cho also notes that the initiative would require funds from the School Board’s budget to pay for any needed resources.

The second motion was introduced by Jennifer Reddy, another trustee, who called for the VSB to hire an external expert.

Reddy says that the expert would “establish a policy that outlines an impact-focused, structured response to hate-motivated crimes and/or actions.”

Although the intrinsics of said policy were later discussed amongst committee members, Reddy suggested that the policy include a structured response; clear, transparent, and accountable actions to be taken by staff and administration; a “process for restorative justice”; and a commitment to communication with students and their caregivers.

“It is imperative that the Vancouver School Board develop an overarching plan to address racism and discrimination in our schools. Individuals, organizations and groups within the community have expressed a need for this work to be done.”

An interim report will be presented on June 3, 2020.

The committee decided to move both motions to the VSB for consideration.

With files from Megan Devlin.

Vincent PlanaVincent Plana

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