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WCDSB director of education addresses criticism over controversial police call

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board building on Weber Street in Kitchener is pictured on Monday, March 9, 2015. (CTV Kitchener/Staff) The Waterloo Catholic District School Board building on Weber Street in Kitchener is pictured on Monday, March 9, 2015. (CTV Kitchener/Staff)
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The head of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board responded in person on Monday evening to concerns over police being called to a local school in response to a Black four-year-old student.

The November 2021 incident came to light last week after a private meeting between the child's family, board administration and several community groups.

Advocacy groups, including the newly formed A Black Parent Council in Waterloo Region, are demanding WCDSB Director of Education Loretta Notten's resignation over it.

On Friday, provincial Education Minister Stephen Lecce ordered a review into the school board's handling of the incident.

Speaking with reporters following the WCDSB Board of Trustees meeting on Monday evening, Notten said she takes issue with “the allegation that there is systemic racism in our board”.

"We certainly realize that we have room to grow and we're committed to that growth," Notten said following the meeting, during which neither the incident nor the provincial review were discussed.

"But I'd take umbrage to the allegation that there is systemic racism in our board."

Notten said it is "a most unfortunate situation whenever the police have to be called to a school and where a young student is involved."

"It is certainly never something we would desire and we understand it can have profound implications for that young person," she continued. "But sometimes it is a necessary course of action and I'm extremely proud of the work our staff do day in and day out here at Waterloo Catholic. We're committed to doing better and we always hold ourselves to a high standard."

Notten has said the board welcomes the objective analysis the provincial review will provide.

The education minister says the review will be conducted by a third-party representative from the ministry who will have a mandate to recommend actions to the board.

Earlier on Monday, WCDSB trustee Jeanne Gravelle provided CTV News with the following statement: "As Trustees we always place high importance on parental concerns and student safety, and we are certainly taking this situation seriously. With a provincial review now underway and the restrictions of privacy laws, we are prevented from speaking further regarding this issue. While we believe provincial policies and procedures were followed in this situation, we welcome an objective review. Should this review lead to policy changes at the provincial level and additional classroom supports that work towards removing systemic racism, we welcome that too."

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