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Public board admits it has ‘a lot of work to do’ after high school teacher uses N-word at school News Jani

Public board admits it has ‘a lot of work to do’ after high school teacher uses N-word at school

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The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) is in the middle of an investigation after one of its high school teachers used the N-word twice at school.

According to the board, a teacher at Kennedy Collegiate Institute in Windsor, Ont., first said the word to students in a class on Nov. 9. Those students were playing a song that made racial slurs, which the teacher — who the board says is a white woman — shut down.

“[She] She told the students she didn’t want to hear that word. Unfortunately he said that word out loud,” said Josh Canty, Superintendent of Education – Student Success, Alternative Education and Equity.

Canty told CBC News that the second incident, said by the same teacher, happened again less than a week later on Nov. 15.

“He tried to explain what happened, how it happened and unfortunately he said the word again,” Canty said.

Josh Canty is the Superintendent of Education – Student Success, Alternative Education and Equity with the Greater Essex County District School Board. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Students had Friday for a staff professional activity day. The staff was informed of a new directive that had been planned before the Kennedy incident. The directive strictly prohibits the use of the N-word. Previously, it was handled on a case-by-case basis, Canty added.

“The timing is just unfortunate that we didn’t get it out sooner and the Kennedy incident may not have happened,” Canty said.

Knowing that it was said that this school was not necessarily shocking. It was disappointing.– Leslie McCurdy

As head of Windsor-Essex’s Black Council, Leslie McCurdy said the board’s new directive needs to go beyond a rule within school walls.

“You can say don’t say that word in school, but unless you educate people about why that word is so disgusting, they’re just going to leave the school grounds and use it. We have to educate people. Gotta give,” McCurdy said. .

Canty acknowledged that the board has “a lot of work to do” to take action against anti-black racism. Part of the work is already underway with the Anti-Black Racism Strategy launched in September. It is a five-year plan.

Leslie McCurdy is part of a Greater Essex County District School Board working group that is taking action against black racism at the board. (Jason Viau/CBC)

McCurdy is part of a working group under the strategy that looks specifically at the use of the N-word. Its role is to help formulate policy that is ultimately transmitted to the Implementation Committee and the School Board.

“Finding that it was said that this school wasn’t necessarily shocking. It was disappointing, but what’s more disappointing is the immediate response from the school administration and the school board administration as a whole. It was not dealt with.” McCurdy said.

Following the incident, multiple resources went to the school to assist affected staff and students.

“We just tried to give all the love and support we could to the students and staff who were affected by this incident,” Canty said.

The public school board would not say specifically how it is handling the situation because it is a personnel issue and the investigation is ongoing.

“When we have a situation that is serious enough that that dirty, hateful word is used, anything up to and including ending it,” Canty said.

From McCurdy’s perspective, she’s looking for the teacher to apologize to students at the school and “maybe take some time off” to educate about the harmful effects of saying that racial slur.

For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians — from anti-black racism to stories of success within the black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)
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