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Zero tolerance policy or zero policy?

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Speak Up Youth forums met with a student at Lord Byng Secondary School, in Vancouver, BC.  She told us what happened when a fellow classmate posted a video, venting racist hate speech and violence towards Black people, last week (as seen in our last article). There are only 6 Black students in her school, so safety has been a concern. She and her mother brought this to the attention of her councillor, school liaison officer and principal.  They were told it wasn’t considered a serious threat, that it was just a joke and that he did not have access to a gun.  Although she said she still didn’t feel safe walking the same halls with him after a mere 3 day suspension, she was told she was going to have to.  Students were later told, in a PA announcement, to delete the video and any posts pertaining to it.   Not feeling satisfied with the school’s response, this student and her mother went to the Vancouver police. They were told that since the video was posted to a group and not publicly, there was nothing they could do.  They said they were short staffed at that time, but that someone would come to their house to take a statement the following day and create a file, but no one came.  Feeling little support from administrators and authorities, she reached out to a community group, who responded with a lot of support.  There was a common thread of many instances of racism and the same lack of support.  Most gave up after trying and some didn’t even try.   Letters were written to several administrative bodies and they must have made a difference because the school reopened the investigation.  The boy who posted the video is not yet back at school and the Principal met with the student who brought it to his attention and her mother again to discuss options that would allow students to work towards a resolution.   She proposed a forum or assembly to educate students about racism. Other students had requested the same thing after another racist incident last year, involving a group of boys wearing KKK costumes during school. The boys received a 2 day suspension, but no assembly took place. She, her mother and many other people in the Black community feel that this incident can not go without being appropriately addressed.  This includes implementation of policies and resources the school has at their disposal.   Last night, Speak Up Youth Forums asked the about these resources at a district school board meeting.  They confirmed that they do have policies in place to deal with racism and violence and have, in fact, expanded them this year.   This student, her mother and others in the community are waiting for the school to respond with their plan for ensuring students feel safe and hope that the zero tolerance policy and this boys actions aren’t left up to interpretation.

Updates will be posted as we receive more information, so check back with us.

If you have any comments or similar stories, please post below.

The previous article with the video can be seen here:

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