Parent’s Plea To Stop The Bullying In Her Child’s School Goes Viral

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(York Region District School Board Still Plagued With Accountability and Bullying Issues Seven Years After High Profile Rally)

 

Back in 2009, over 400 students walked out of their classrooms denouncing staff at Keswick High School’s decision to wrongfully suspend an Asian student who was the subject of bullying.  This incident in 2009 took the York Region District School Board [YRDSB] off guard and continues to be a black eye on the board regarding how not just Board Trustee Nancy Elgie handled the case, but how the bigotry and blind eye towards victims of abuse ran rampant in York Region Schools.  It wasn’t until media was involved and a public outcry, that Trustee Elgie (who’s profession is a clinical psychologist) and higher ranks at YRDSB actively got involved to correct the situation.  The Keswick High protests brought forth change in YRDSB policy, however not the attitude of the board to listen to students and parents.

Fast forward to 2016.  Seven years after the Keswick High boondoggle, there have been several reports that a school just blocks away is displaying again intolerance around bullying to the point where even the staff seem to be taking an active role in it.  Keswick parent Robin Legault took to facebook in horror, and desperation after feeling nothing was being done to correct her concerns by school staff and the YRDSB.  Legault stated in her facebook post, that she had complained to the school several times regarding the bullying, and staff gave her the cold shoulder:

My fiancé and I have repeatedly complained to the school about these issues in hopes the school staff would rectify this, but it seemed they would just ignore the problem and tell us they were “looking into it”.

Legault goes on to say that as a result of the relentless bullying her daughter tried to take her own life, not once but twice.  Legault was horrified to find out recently that school staff seem to be taking an active role in the abuse of her child.  Legault stated:

On Wednesday March 9th 2016, I was expecting my daughter to have had a really good day at school. I never had any phone calls or anything and was hopeful she had a rare, but peaceful day. Quite the opposite. When she arrived home, she told me that her special education teacher had prevented her to leave the classroom at all costs and also asked another teacher to “make sure she didn’t leave”. Her special education teacher was sending her down to the office and as my daughter asked why she was being sent, the special education teacher demanded her to do ten crunches in front of the class. Every time my daughter opened her mouth to ask what was going on, another ten crunches was added to make a total of eighty crunches that my daughter was forced to do before she left. She was escorted down to the office and remained there for the day. She was not allowed to read, do her schoolwork, or even draw while she was there. When my daughter was finally allowed to return to her special education class, my daughter was terrified to speak, as she didn’t want more crunches. In addition, her teacher told her that something must be wrong with her head and using anxiety and depression is just an excuse.

The facebook post quickly shared by thousands on facebook produced comments from across the country of support and similar issues with other school boards and staff.  Legault, is planning on a rally in front of Jersey Public School Monday March 21st, 2016 at 7:30am to denounce bullying problems at this school with the support of several other concerned parents. She is asking those that plan on attending to wear pink.

Legault has since approached Trustee Elgie, and the superintendent of the school only to be met with threats of a lawsuit from YRDSB, and dismissal of her complaints on staff.  According to YRDSB spokesperson Licinio Miguelo, upon a complaint from a parent on the conduct of school staff the board is supposed to initiate an investigation on the incident at the school.  There has been no indication or documentation provided to Legault that any investigation is ongoing regarding her complaint, just threats of a lawsuit against Legault’s family by the board, nor did Miguelo provide any indication of an ongoing investigation into Legault’s concerns.

Under safe schools legislation YRDSB is supposed to implement anti-bullying programs board-wide.  Miguelo wouldn’t comment on whether in Legault‘s case proper policy was followed citing privacy concerns, and did not have any specific information regarding what anti-bullying programs were in place at Jersey Public School at the time of the interview.  I was told the board would provide that at a later date. In 2010 the Ontario Auditor General found a total of $30 million $50 million in tax payers money earmarked for anti-bullying programs unaccounted for by all school boards across the province.

I spoke with Legault’s Trustee Nancy Elgie today on the record.  When questioning Elgie on the threatening behavior of the board, Elgie acknowledged that the board provided “legal advise” to Legault, and essentially called into question Legault’s story on facebook as being not truthful.  Elgie provided nothing to counter Legault’s claims, nor did she elaborate. Upon questioning regarding the bullying problems at Jersey Public School which is well known in the community, Elgie stated that she hasn’t heard of any systemic bullying issues from parents at this school, meanwhile there is documentation that shows Elgie was e-mailed by the superintendent showing systemic issues being investigated by the board on Legault’s daughters bullies in 2014. Legault stated that Elgie refused to get in contact with her in 2014, along with the superintendent that was copied on the e-mail thread.

When questioning Elgie if she would be willing to meet with concerned parents regarding the bullying issues at this school, Elgie agreed however offered that she would only be there to listen to concerns, and would not offer up any solutions to the systemic bullying issues at Jersey Public School.  Elgie did state however that she will be attending the rally on March 21st.

What saddens me from following this story, is that we just had a national discussion on bullying, to the point where the Federal Government in 2014 tried to address the issue through federal legislation.  The Ontario Government passed safe schools legislation years ago, that seems to be rather voluntary regarding the boards implementation of it.  The country, it’s people, and elected representatives are all on the same page regarding bullying, so why aren’t educators and trustees?

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  1. #1 by suzy q williams on March 19, 2016 - 9:00 AM

    Are you kidding me? The York Region District School Board management is packed FULL of bullies and sociopaths that enjoy torturing people. The principals are the worst: mean, cruel…even downright evil. Just ask any support staff employee that’s willing to talk. The YRDSB is run by these evil bullies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. #2 by Kathy on March 19, 2016 - 10:01 AM

    Keep in mind that there are two sides to this story. Any board employee would not be able to make any comment regarding this incident if there is an investigation taking place, which I am assuming there is. I am offended that you would suggest that educators and trustees are not “on the same page” regarding bullying. Are you a teacher? Have you been in a school or a classroom and witnessed the work that is done each and everyday with students, parents, and staff? Were you in the classroom at the time of this incident? Are you aware of any of the details surrounding the incident, leading up to what happened in moments, hours, days, or weeks prior? My guess is your answer to these questions is “no”.
    There are two sides to this story. There are details, and circumstances that we are not privy to knowing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. #4 by Chris J Herrmann on March 19, 2016 - 11:21 AM

    This trustee Nancy Elgie sounds like a real piece of work. Brutal.

    Like

  4. #5 by Tonya Geniole on March 19, 2016 - 2:14 PM

    About time I was harassed in KHS in 2006 they called police the girl did stop but for every woman or man being bullied it needs to stop before any one wants to hurt them selves

    Liked by 1 person

  5. #6 by Jason Koblovsky on March 19, 2016 - 2:37 PM

    There was supposed to be a lot of changes to the attitude at the YRDSB around bullying after the 2009 rallies. I think the community needs to question as to why after 2009 they have to rally yet again for their voices to be heard at the board. I think this community is owed concrete answers by the board this time around as to why they keep refusing to listen to students and parents regarding bullying issues.

    School Boards are supposed to be democratic public institutions. That doesn’t seem to be the case at YRDSB when this is the second time in seven years the community has had to yell at the board in order for them to get their voices heard. Those voices are supposed to be represented by our elected trustees.

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  6. #7 by Karen on March 19, 2016 - 3:40 PM

    30 million dollars for antibullying? Wow and yet it’s allowed to continue without validation for the victims well being. YRDSB needs to make certain that their zero tolerance for bullying is upheld. My daughters have had far too many incidents where appropriate action wasn’t always taken. From being told by another student that he would kill her in her sleep, to constant reminders that she’s a horrible person and boys chanting go kill yourself. We’ve even had an abusive teacher that I will forever be blamed for attempting to destroy his livelihood because I took the next step towards rectifying the issue by going to the trustee with my concerns. Thankfully the trustee was a tremendous help. These are our children and we send them to school to build them up and educate them not to see them stripped of their confidence and self worth. I think we need to make certain that adults in places of education take these concerns more seriously and that are are consequences for bullying. My heart goes out the the Legault family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • #8 by Jason Koblovsky on March 19, 2016 - 3:57 PM

      @Karen said: “30 million dollars for antibullying? Wow and yet it’s allowed to continue without validation for the victims well being. YRDSB needs to make certain that their zero tolerance for bullying is upheld.”

      It’s actually $50 million. Just corrected that in the post:

      http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1423611-school-bully-program-success-unclear-auditor-general/

      Excellent point and to add too it; in 2010 the Ontario Auditor General found that there was virtually no tracking of programs in place for anti-bullying by all school boards in the province. The Auditor General’s office recommended to the Ministry of Education and to the legislature to implement a system and track programs at schools as per their success and failure. If this was the case at this specific school, the YRDSB has had 6 or so years already to find out what works and what doesn’t. There should have be no excuse in my opinion with the funds available for program implementation and tracking that the Legault family has had to go through this. Something’s not right, where’s this money going?

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  7. #9 by Cory Savage on March 19, 2016 - 3:42 PM

    This is absolutely disgusting I attended a large number of yrdsb schools from grad 3 till completion. Now I didn’t complete highschool till I was 20 and this being a reason I was bullied everyday beat up black eyes brusies purple nurples being a twisting and pulling action of the breastfeeding area and 99% of the time non of it was stopped in grade 9 I was suckered punched in the left eye leading to a black eye for 2 Weeks and when I brought it to the attention of the school Dr John my Dennison secondary at the time said take it to the police we didn’t see it happen it was in the east side of the schools hallway with a camera facing the exact spot it happend so I reported it to the local police station and went to talk to a officer and they wanted to charge me with assault when they could see I had a black eye and the other boy did not have anything wrong other then his feelings being hurt because I told him to stop being a dick of course he was a regular bully everyday harassment was a normal thing so I stood up and they tried to charge me for standing up for my self he punched me and I walked away with out swinging back I was scared. Now over the close to 8 years of high school I did I had dropped out numerous times with my mom’s approval because of the amount of stress I was having because of the fear of being bullied beat up or even dead in sure we all remember the young boy who need up paralyzed and in a coma for a couple months because of some boys at nhs back in the early 2000 they followed him home and beat him up and left him for dead it was aired on ctv. So with my self seeing that I was always terrified that one day I might not make it home from school so I started contemplating dropping out and I did the bullying got so Severe that I had suicidal thoughts and tried to carry them out and to this day I still have those thoughts because of the trauma I had exspirenced. Now to fill in the whole story I had already sustained a tbi (traumatic brain injury) and my mother was my advocate for principles and dealing with the issues I was experiencing and even with a tbi program at Dennison secondary the bullying was even worse kids knew I had a disability and knew I could be hurt easy. To say the least yrdsb has never stood up for me and many others dealing with bullies like I said for years from grade 3 to grade 12 they had nothing to say or do to try and help resolve the on going sickening issue I even got expelled from the board in grad 12 after someone had called me a quote fag for having a valentine’s gift for my long time girlfriend So I reacted after hearing it come out of a boys mouth for 20 minutes in auto shop I grabbed my socket wrench and told him to stop he didn’t so I took my Wrench and held it up and said stop or I’ll knock you out at this point my teacher watched me react and the cameras saw what happened but I was expelled and the boy continued on with his school year as I sat at home trying to figure out how I would pass my final year and it had already been a struggle to finish school they had made it wores. I plead to you yrdsb that you do something soon before we have a serious incident much like mine but with a lot more damage to the person who is the bullie the bullied are weak and are losing faith in our teachers and principles that we are suppose to trust being a victim of bullying I know how hard it is to stay strong and wake up every morning and walk into a class room or 30 ND smile knowing someone may hit you or speak badly about you. Yrdsb you have caused me to expirence suicide first hand and yes I blame you for your poor ability to stop the bullies before it’s too late at 23 years of age iv only tried to commit suicide 5 times between the age of 13 and 23 that’s 5 times to many it’s all a result of bullying make it stop.

    To the children being bullied I want you to know that bullies are temporary you will one day be alot better of a person then them and you will succeed in life of you ever feel alone or helpless call your local crisis line and tell them they can help they deal with people just like me who have exspirenced mental health due to bullies ect don’t let them get the best of you stay strong and move on.
    From Cory Savage

    Liked by 1 person

  8. #10 by Pam Martin on March 19, 2016 - 11:58 PM

    This teacher should be fired .what is wrong with school that allow this knowing what is going on out there ..these kids are young and need your help if you can’t do the job .find another one don’t take it out on kids that need you and kids that are already being bullied how mean can you get …sad sad issue …

    Like

    • #11 by Jason Koblovsky on March 20, 2016 - 1:00 PM

      With respect, there are two sides to every story but at the same time school staff and the board seem to be rather dismissive of this parents concerns to the point of threatening lawsuits rather than sitting down with this parent to discuss those concerns in a more diplomatic fashion, and committing to an independent investigation. This can also send a message to our kids who see injustices in our society not to speak out on it due to fear of retribution, inaction and stress as a result.

      There should be no reason after Keswick High that people have to use social media to get their voices heard, and file human rights complaints (to which the commission has already blasted the YRDSB on bullying issues as recently as last month) against the board due to ignorance in its ranks and within public representation at the trustee level.

      This is a complete leadership failure yet again, not just at the school level, but the board level as well. I’ll do up a follow up blog to this once the community has had its chance to air out its concerns about this specific school, and see if there will be any concrete changes and commitments made by the board and staff to address the community’s concerns, and show leadership on the issues they present.

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  9. #12 by Karen Sebben on March 20, 2016 - 6:02 PM

    In response to Kathy’s remark…”I am offended that you would suggest that educators and trustees are not “on the same page” regarding bullying.” If educators and trustees were on the same page then why is it that my child was harassed, stalked and assaulted by the same five peers for the duration of 3 school years? Why is it that concrete consequences were not handed down to these 5 students to change their negative behaviour? Just because someone is an educator does not mean they have a conscience. The same goes for someone who might be a doctor, lawyer or psychiatrist…..So, I am offended Kathy that you would actually believe that all educators and trustees actually are on the same page. I could write a book about all the phone calls I’ve received over the past 11 years where no one, adult included, was held to account in the spiraling emotional and physical downfall of some of our students. The truth of the matter is there are some educators that we as parents should simply not entrust the care and physical safety of our children to.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. #13 by Melissa buckle on March 20, 2016 - 11:32 PM

    I will be trying my hardest to come out and support this as I live and breathe this town. I know first hand how schools say certain intolerance is in place yet not being upheld. I have had many similar warning signs of how things are going to turn out for my child (which is this example) and I am scared for my child to be continuing an education in this system, with the way things are being run.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. #14 by Dick Dallett on April 28, 2016 - 7:41 PM

    I am thinking about putting together a twenty minute speech in regard to all this bullying and presenting it at some local schools. I am at square one. Just wanted to visit some sites, and understand some existing advocacy.

    Liked by 1 person

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