Ontario Education Minister Mitzie Hunter warns that York Region District school board cannot move forward until trustee Nancy Elgie resigns.
Angry York residents had demanded Elgie’s resignation for calling a black parent a nigger.
The parent, Jamaica-born Charline Grant said that during a public meeting last November, Elgie used the racial slur which was reported to be heard by several persons.
A subsequent investigation into the incident was conducted by the York Region District School Board and Elgie has since issued an apology.
But at a disrupted meeting of the York Region District school board on Monday night, Elgie proposed her own punishment – suspension from all Board meeting for three to six months.
Although she was absent from the meeting, her son was present to read a letter with Elgie’s proposal.
Commenting on the issue on Tuesday before a Liberal caucus meeting at Queen’s Park, the Education Minister said the York board cannot get past all of its challenges until trustee Nancy Elgie steps down.
Someone who uses a racial slur of that nature should not be representing the students of a diverse region. The use of a racial slur of that kind is completely unacceptable and is not tolerated at all” said the minister.
“Everyone has to operate on behalf of the best interests of the students of York Region and to do the right thing and to do the responsible thing,” Hunter said.
Elgie’s proposed punishment has outraged Grant.
“You can’t have perpetrators giving out their own sentence. Students can’t do that. Criminals can’t do that. We’re talking about a trustee, someone who admitted to saying the racial slur, giving out her own sentence. That’s not justice. The only justice, the only way to heal from this, is for her to resign. Nothing else but her resignation” said Grant.
Concerned parents, fellow trustees, and other members of the community have also called for her resignation.
New trustee chair Loralea Carruthers stated the school board is working hard to regain public confidence and trust, and are considering creating an Integrity Commissioner at the next board meeting, working with provincial reviewers to do so.
Carruthers has also called upon Elgie to step down.
Executive Director of the Vaughn African Canadian Association Shernett Martin was present at Monday’s meeting.
“We took a stand and shut down the meeting. We demanded she resign and the trustees had to stop the meeting. Parents stood up and shared their experiences and we made an impact” said Martin.
Journalist Desmond Cole commenting on the situation, condemned Elgie’s behavior.
“She has resisted accountability at every turn. Ellie must never again be in a position where she can make important decisions about Black families and students” Cole told the Caribbean Camera.
Cole who attended last Monday’s meeting, said it “was one of the most powerful displays of Black community resistance I have been involved in.”
“I was so proud of the way Black parents spoke about the difficulties they are facing at the York Region District School Board. Speaking about personal experiences of racism is always painful, but the community was united and clear” he said.
Former Toronto city councillor Rob Davis has also spoken out in support of Grant and has called for the resignation of Elgie.He has also created a Facebook group page to mobilize concerned community members.
Grant said Elgie directly contacted her through email to apologize.
“She proposed meeting in March to express how deeply sorry she is in person. But I want to take that opportunity to educate her about how deeply she hurt us. I don’t think she understands,” said Grant.