Ottawa high school students petition to remove principal for reported racism and walkout

A group of Ottawa high school students are calling for the removal of a principal over allegations of racism, and some staged a walkout on Wednesday shouting “school is not a prison.”

On June 22, students at Hillcrest High School walked out of class, likening their school to prison. The protest followed several allegations made against the school and its principal, who was hired in February, about harming BIPOC students.

The students launched their second petition during the fourth week of June, after the students said a first petition has been reported and reported. The latest petition garnered nearly 70 signatures by the end of the month, with the first garnering over 200 signatures in a week.

According to the petition, BIPOC students faced racist statements, were monitored in hallways and bathrooms, and were monitored by Ottawa Police Service School Resource Officers after the program ended. removed by the school board last year.

The students added that Muslim students allegedly had religious quotes removed from yearbooks, BIPOC students were further suspended, the future of BIPOC students was threatened, and calls to the police were also allegedly threatened. The petition also claims that students were searched without authorization and that the school was turned into a “prison”.

“Over the past few weeks, some students and families have shared concerns about the school climate at Hillcrest and that changes in practice have led to feelings of unfair treatment, punitive actions and a lack of student voice” said Darcy Knoll, Communications Coordinator for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

“These are serious concerns which included expressions of harassment, bias and racism against certain groups. School administrators worked with the superintendent, the OCDSB Human Rights and Equity Advisor and the community partners to immediately address these concerns by creating spaces to listen to concerns and hear ideas on the way forward.”

The most recent student complaints follow an incident on June 17, where the City of Ottawa’s By-Laws and Regulatory Services accused a student of using an e-cigarette in a prohibited area. and supplying vaping products to a person under the age of 19. the student was also fined $795 for the charges under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act

“BLRS works closely with school boards for the enforcement of the LFOSF on school property and is in regular communication with school administrators across Ottawa,” said Roger Chapman, Director, Policy and By-Law Services.

In an emailed statement, Chapman added that bylaw and regulatory departments are mandated to perform such enforcement under the law.

A police-free advocacy group said it had seen more complaints of racism in Hillcrest

In an email sent to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the police-free advocacy group Asilu Collective called on the school board to remove the student fines and recommended the school board take a reduction approach. harms of electronic cigarettes.

Asilu Collective said it has received several complaints of racism at Hillcrest High School since its inception. anonymous reporting tool for racist incidents and policing schools, as noted in the email shared on Twitter.

“However, since the creation of Asilu’s anonymous reporting tool for school policing incidents, we have noticed that an overwhelming majority of reports have come from Hillcrest HS students,” reads- on in a tweet from Asilu Collective.

“Furthermore, we demand that #OCDSB and the City of Ottawa remove the fine imposed on the aforementioned student, as it explicitly violates the OCDSB’s commitment to bias-sensitive intervention strategies and progressive discipline. , as mitigating factors were not used.”

In June last year, Asilu Collective published a report on the presence of officers in schools and racism, noting that police services disproportionately affect BIPOC students and that Ottawa’s School Resource Officer program relies on preventive policing.

“[Teacher name] admitted to disliking students of color because they have always behaved the worst,” reads a quote in the report, attributed to a racialized former student of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

Earlier in 2020, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board released a statement on Anti-Black Racism noting, “The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has a strong commitment to equity and inclusion. We recognize that we have work to do within our system. As a school district, we pledge to challenge ourselves to examine privilege and ask ourselves how we can make changes to eliminate racism from within our system.”

Regarding the latest allegations, the OCDSB said some students and families have expressed interest in engaging more with school staff, discussing student-staff relationships, and exploring what the school will look like. learning at Hillcrest. The council added that conversations would continue in September.

“To support these conversations, school teams will review data from the recent School Climate Survey and work with school staff, community partners, students and parents to help identify actions that will emphasize on improving students’ sense of belonging and safety and other needs identified based on academic achievement and student voice,” Knoll said.

Narcity has contacted Hillcrest High School for comment, but has not received a response at the time of this article’s publication.