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WRDSB trustee takes issue with board’s public response to 'child abuse' claim

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A Kitchener public school board trustee has released an open letter of dissent, arguing a recent communication to parents from the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) may have a “chilling effect” on those who may wish to voice concerns in public forums.

On Monday, Mike Ramsay took issue with a letter released by the board on Jan. 20, on the direction of trustees, addressing a series of concerns raised by a parent at a public meeting on Jan. 16.

The letter addressed what the board chair called “unfounded accusations of child abuse” and “misinformation” among other concerns raised at the meeting.

“I’ve never seen [this] in the history of the board and I don’t believe there’s any justification for this; for such a public response,” said Ramsay. “Why the departure from past practices?”

The WRDSB letter does not name any parent, but alludes to concerns “framed as questions” while carrying an “accusatory” tone and “coupled with inflammatory language and misinformation.” The open letter notes as the comments were made in a public forum, administration decided to address them publicly.

Ramsay names David Todor in his letter as the parent who detailed issues with a student survey which contained identity-based questions and concerns with a particular book available to the student population online. In concluding his delegation, Todor suggested the board was facilitating child abuse.

“Who is interested in knowing and affirming, celebrating my daughter’s sexual orientation?” questioned Todor. “Why is the school board facilitating child abuse and has these kinds of books available in the library?”

The board responded with an open letter explaining the surveys are voluntary and used to gather data for education planning. Staff also noted the book in question was not available to elementary students, but is available as an e-book.

Ramsay’s rebuttal takes issue with the tone of the letter, its characterization of Todor’s concerns and its public release.

“The parent was not there questioning LGBTQ rights,” said Ramsay. “They were there to talk about their grade four child, whether or not they should have access to certain books.”

Ramsay called Todor’s presentation respectful and suggested the language may be “hyperbolic” but carried legitimate underlying concerns.

“The inference I took from the presentation was that he was suggesting the board was making it easier for child abuse to take place,” said Ramsay. “Whether or not he’s right or wrong, he does have that right to come and speak to his elected representatives. We don’t have to agree with him, but we do have to listen to have we has to say.”

CTV News reached out to the WRDSB for an interview, but a spokesperson for the board declined comment.

The letter remains published on the board website and includes links to both Family & Children Services of the Waterloo Region and the Waterloo Regional Police Service for valid concerns of child abuse to be reported.

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