A Hamilton Wentworth District School Board Trustee has issued a “Cease and Desist” demand to Hamilton Students for Justice to remove a Twitter post that names the trustee. Kathy Archer who represents Ward Six on Hamilton Mountain, was one of four trustees that were identified by former HWDSB student Trustee Ahona Mehdi after a redacted version of a consultant’s report into allegations of racist behaviour at HWDSB was released this week. Archer was one of three trustees that the consultant found “knew or ought to have known that their comments were not only insensitive but expressions of anti-Black racism.” The comments referred to were in the debate on whether to eliminate the presence of Hamilton Police in HWDSB schools. In the debate, trustees were heard to be making comments along the lines of “all lives matter.”
The letter from Hamilton paralegal Joseph Kazubek says the Twitter post, “includes photos and statements meant to defame and slander our client which will not be tolerated at this time.” The letter goes on to threaten a libel action if Hamilton Students for Justice, of which Ms. Mehdi is a member, persist in their postings.
In a video posting today Mehdi said the decision by the Board to publish a redacted version and to not sanction trustees, passed only because three of the trustees who were criticized in the report did not recuse themselves.
Ministry of Education
Ms. Mehdi has called for the “impeachment” of the named trustees, although it is not clear if such a mechanism exists under the Municipal Act. The controversy has drawn the attention of the Ministry of Education. A spokesperson there told the Hamilton Spectator they found Mehdi’s allegations “deeply disturbing,” and said it would be “closely monitoring” the board’s next steps.
Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca called the report’s findings “shocking,” adding, “my thoughts go out to the student trustee who was silenced by school trustees as she attempted to share her experiences. The school board owes her, and every other young person of colour, a sincere apology and concrete action to ensure this can never happen again.”
The Hamilton Westworth District School Board has formally apologized to Mehdi ands has voted to accept all of the report’s recommendations which include enhanced anti-racism and equity, diversity and inclusion training.