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Education minister orders review into removal of four-year-old student from Waterloo region school by police


Ontario’s education minister has ordered a review into the Waterloo Catholic District School Board's (WCDSB) handling of a November 2021 incident where a Black four-year-old was removed from a Waterloo region school by police.

Meanwhile the school board maintains its actions followed provincially established policies and procedures, but said it welcomed the review.

Community advocates spoke out about the incident on Wednesday, following a private meeting between the child's family, board administration and several community groups.

The Waterloo Regional Police Service confirmed to CTV News officers received a call in November 2021 from a school principal regarding a student "in crisis,” who was said to be acting violently.

Police said the student was placed in a safe and secure room and when officers arrived they began working with the child to de-escalate the situation. They found a family member and drove the student home.

On Friday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he wanted a review and a report.

"No four-year-child in this province or this country should have the police called on them," Lecce told CTV News. "It's just unacceptable and that's why I decided to send in a review, to understand what transpired and to ensure it doesn't happen again."

In an emailed statement issued earlier in the afternoon, Lecce said the review would be conducted by a third-party representative from the Ministry of Education who would have a mandate to recommend actions to the board.

"Black and racialized parents continue to deal with these unacceptable situations that only demoralize and harm their children and families," Lecce said. "We have to do better."

Waterloo District Catholic School Board Director of Education Loretta Notten responded in an emailed statement.

"While the actions taken on this situation followed provincially established policies and procedures, we welcome the objective analysis and the opportunity to learn how provincial practice can be refined and improved to better serve all our students," Notten said in part. "Perhaps through this review, a change in these policies may be considered. We are also committed to an elimination of all forms of systemic racism ad bias within the schools of WCDSB."

Local NDP MPP calls for system-wide audit

Meanwhile Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo called what happened at the school "infuriating."

"This incident speaks to the pattern of Black children being treated more harshly than their white peers," Lindo said in a statement released Friday. "No four-year-old should ever be criminalized in this way"

She wants to see a system-wide equity audit across all Ontario public schools, adding her office has recieved hundreds of emails demanding action on this.

Lindo is also championing the Racial Equity in the Education System Act, a bill she says can help address the root causes of racist and otherwise hateful incidents in schools and reduce the harm they cause. Top Stories

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