It is a school...
It is a school bullying issue involving my biracial 11-year old godson being the repeatedly the target of bullying based on his race, on a school bus, which he must take everyday from our rural community to the St. Andrews catholic school in Cornwall Ontario. The frequency and number of students now involved is now increasing since the first incident that occured only a couple of weeks after the schol year started in September, when we moved to Ingleside Ontario (from Hamilton Ontario) a couple of months ago. My godson has to take the schoolbus twice a day (to school and home), and since the first incident when the racial slurs started and was only investigated by the principal (Dan Curtis) after my godson (who informed the pincipal at the time) told us at home and his mother called him, the treats and taunts have now escalated to include physical threats and assault. At that time the bully AND my godson were suspended from school. Over the past few weeks though, the number of students now getting involved on the schoolbus taunts has increased. My godson verbally returned the broadening taunts, and was suspended AGAIN, along with the older alleged bully. Further, my 11-year old godson was suspended from riding the schoolbus until after Christmas, approximately 6 weeks into the future. My godson's (Aratis Forrester) mother again spoke with the school principal about the bullying incidents involving students verbal abuse ons threats on the bus. Dan Curtis, the principal, confirmed the general details of the incident and the names of three of the other student involved. Aratis was able to provide his mother with the names of an additional number of students who either participated in/or observed the schoolbus very latest incident. Mr Curtis told us he conducted and 'investigation' but neither the family nor Aratis were invertiewed. Aratis' mother was told that copies the report of his 'investigation' were sent to the school's Superintendant and schoolbus company. When we saught to appeal the riding suspension, the schoolbus company told Aratis' mother that it was the school principal who decides the extent of the punishment, and that we should direct our concerns to Dan Curtis, the school principal. Last Friday, following the latest discussion with the principal we emailed him and formally requested a copy of his investigation, either electronically or in-person when we would travel to Cornwall to pick it up. We have not heard back, nor eceived even an acknowledgement of our request. To be fair, it was late Friday when our conversation with the principal happened and he probably had to consult with his Superintendant about its release. We were told that a re-entry meeting would be held following the end of the three-day suspension period. However, the suspension from riding the schoolbus would continue. Even Rosa Parks had a bus she could ride in 1955!!! To punish my godson the same degree as the others involved, because he would not stand any longer for racist taunts (eg. N-word etc), would be like telling a student who is being raped at school to just lie still and not call out or resist, or else she will be punished as much as the rapist. Let's not under-estimate the effects of both: both are criminal offenses (the later a hate crime and the promotion of hatred against a person from an identifiable group); both are traumatic; both affect the person's mental health, etc. In Aratis' situation it is difficult to believe that the bully(ies) would spend their nights tormented, sad, depressed, withdrawn, and expressing anger at home when this was never the way they would generally have behaved before. He was never bullied on the basis of his skin colour at his catholic school in Hamilton - the same city where in the past month a young student was stabbed in front of his mother allegedly by a 14-year old student, in front of his mother, who held him as he died. It was reported in the press (including CBC, CNN, e
Lawyer's Assistant: Can you tell me what state this is in? And how long has this been going on?
The incident was in Ontario Canada, and has been going on repeatedly for less than three months. I was hoping you could help us identify a parallel Canadian organization who could assist us before it esclates further. Thank you.
Lawyer's Assistant: Have you spoken to a local attorney or school administrator? What is your ideal outcome for this situation?
School administrator - yes, a couple time. We have not yet contacted a local attorney. Our ideal outcome would be to have Aratis be free from being harassed on school property, that includes the schoolbus which we are told is treated as an extension of the classroom. He must not be punished by the school to the same extent as the other students involved. Even just a telephone call from a broader organization, not by a familiar community lawyer who must handle a wide range of legal issues, to ask the principal (Dan Curtis) for a copy of their policies dealing with bullying and racism in their schools. Not to launch a legal challenge at this time, but to get the message across that it has been identified as a potential problem by a very concerned family. Previous discussions with the school principal have not improved the situation, and we do not want to see Aratis continue to be haunted by this abuse.
Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Nothing more. Thank you very much.