Hamilton trustees ‘hypocritical’ for not pausing police program, Dundas rep says

News Jun 10, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Dundas-area trustee Paul Tut is calling his colleagues “hypocritical” for not suspending a police liaison program while the Hamilton public school board conducts a review amid concerns racialized students are unfairly targeted.

After more than two hours of debate on June 8, trustees unanimously agreed to ask staff to study the program and present a report in October recommending whether it should be continued, revised or terminated.

But a separate motion to suspend the program lost by a 7-3 vote, with only Tut, Ward 3’s Maria Felix Miller and Stoney Creek’s Cam Galindo in favour. The board’s two student trustees also backed the pause, but their votes don’t formally count.

Tut said suspending the program would keep with past review practices — including for a program mentoring Black students at Bernie Custis and Sir Allan MacNab high schools that was paused for a month-long review in February.

“We are hearing the cries of racialized students feeling injustice, feeling they’ve been targeted,” he said.

“We can’t even do the minimum, the minimum of just suspending the program and completing the review. That’s the piece that’s extremely shocking and hurtful.”

Tut also took aim at Toronto and Hamilton police unions for “disgusting comments” about a board anti-racism letter which called the death of a Toronto woman who fell from a highrise balcony, while officers were there, an act of anti-Black racism and violence.

The death is still being probed by the province’s civilian Special Investigations Unit, but the letter linked it to the killing of George Floyd, while in police custody in Minnesota, that has fuelled worldwide protests.

Tut said the letter from board chair Alex Johnstone and education director Manny Figueiredo “acknowledged the systemic and racial injustices and racism that occurs in the police force, in the school board.”

“For them being allies and coming forward, what did they get? They got torched by sophomoric comments by the police unions,” Tut said.

Miller, who pushed for the review, said a 2016 protocol with Hamilton police and the city’s four publicly-funded school boards provides no details on how often 11 officers, dedicated to the program, visit schools and what they can do once there.

“Black students matter in our schools. Their safety matters. Their dignity matters,” Miller said. “I’m very concerned about the potential for harm within this program, specifically but not exclusively to our Black student communities.”

Johnstone and other trustees who opposed suspending the program said they fear doing so might jeopardize student safety and go against calls for more police presence at schools heard by the board’s bullying review panel.

Trustees initiated the latter review in response to the public outcry after the stabbing death of 14-year-old student Devan Selvey outside Sir Winston Churchill last October.

Johnstone said the police program is an emotionally charged issue and “students should not be made to feel unsafe either way.”

She suggested a compromise could be a “significant reduction” in police presence at schools by finding others to do presentations on issues like cyberbullying, and limiting officers to roles like training for lockdown drills.

“I would not be comfortable suspending the entire program at this time, and I think that’s mainly because I do not know what the full impact would be,” Johnstone said. “I feel that I don’t have full facts right now.”

Ward 5 trustee Carole Paikin Miller said she’s heard from parents who see officers’ presence at schools as a benefit to students, but appreciates others “have a different experience of the police.”

“I accept that and respect it, and I don’t negate it or put it down, but I do think we need to be mindful of the opposite side of the coin,” she said.

But student trustee Ahona Mehdi, who attends Ancaster High School, said a suspension isn’t enough and she will seek a trustee to introduce a motion to terminate it at the board’s June 22 meeting.

Hamilton trustees ‘hypocritical’ for not pausing police program, Dundas rep says

Other trustees fear removing school police will risk student safety

News Jun 10, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Dundas-area trustee Paul Tut is calling his colleagues “hypocritical” for not suspending a police liaison program while the Hamilton public school board conducts a review amid concerns racialized students are unfairly targeted.

After more than two hours of debate on June 8, trustees unanimously agreed to ask staff to study the program and present a report in October recommending whether it should be continued, revised or terminated.

But a separate motion to suspend the program lost by a 7-3 vote, with only Tut, Ward 3’s Maria Felix Miller and Stoney Creek’s Cam Galindo in favour. The board’s two student trustees also backed the pause, but their votes don’t formally count.

Tut said suspending the program would keep with past review practices — including for a program mentoring Black students at Bernie Custis and Sir Allan MacNab high schools that was paused for a month-long review in February.

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“We are hearing the cries of racialized students feeling injustice, feeling they’ve been targeted,” he said.

“We can’t even do the minimum, the minimum of just suspending the program and completing the review. That’s the piece that’s extremely shocking and hurtful.”

Tut also took aim at Toronto and Hamilton police unions for “disgusting comments” about a board anti-racism letter which called the death of a Toronto woman who fell from a highrise balcony, while officers were there, an act of anti-Black racism and violence.

The death is still being probed by the province’s civilian Special Investigations Unit, but the letter linked it to the killing of George Floyd, while in police custody in Minnesota, that has fuelled worldwide protests.

Tut said the letter from board chair Alex Johnstone and education director Manny Figueiredo “acknowledged the systemic and racial injustices and racism that occurs in the police force, in the school board.”

“For them being allies and coming forward, what did they get? They got torched by sophomoric comments by the police unions,” Tut said.

Miller, who pushed for the review, said a 2016 protocol with Hamilton police and the city’s four publicly-funded school boards provides no details on how often 11 officers, dedicated to the program, visit schools and what they can do once there.

“Black students matter in our schools. Their safety matters. Their dignity matters,” Miller said. “I’m very concerned about the potential for harm within this program, specifically but not exclusively to our Black student communities.”

Johnstone and other trustees who opposed suspending the program said they fear doing so might jeopardize student safety and go against calls for more police presence at schools heard by the board’s bullying review panel.

Trustees initiated the latter review in response to the public outcry after the stabbing death of 14-year-old student Devan Selvey outside Sir Winston Churchill last October.

Johnstone said the police program is an emotionally charged issue and “students should not be made to feel unsafe either way.”

She suggested a compromise could be a “significant reduction” in police presence at schools by finding others to do presentations on issues like cyberbullying, and limiting officers to roles like training for lockdown drills.

“I would not be comfortable suspending the entire program at this time, and I think that’s mainly because I do not know what the full impact would be,” Johnstone said. “I feel that I don’t have full facts right now.”

Ward 5 trustee Carole Paikin Miller said she’s heard from parents who see officers’ presence at schools as a benefit to students, but appreciates others “have a different experience of the police.”

“I accept that and respect it, and I don’t negate it or put it down, but I do think we need to be mindful of the opposite side of the coin,” she said.

But student trustee Ahona Mehdi, who attends Ancaster High School, said a suspension isn’t enough and she will seek a trustee to introduce a motion to terminate it at the board’s June 22 meeting.

Hamilton trustees ‘hypocritical’ for not pausing police program, Dundas rep says

Other trustees fear removing school police will risk student safety

News Jun 10, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Dundas-area trustee Paul Tut is calling his colleagues “hypocritical” for not suspending a police liaison program while the Hamilton public school board conducts a review amid concerns racialized students are unfairly targeted.

After more than two hours of debate on June 8, trustees unanimously agreed to ask staff to study the program and present a report in October recommending whether it should be continued, revised or terminated.

But a separate motion to suspend the program lost by a 7-3 vote, with only Tut, Ward 3’s Maria Felix Miller and Stoney Creek’s Cam Galindo in favour. The board’s two student trustees also backed the pause, but their votes don’t formally count.

Tut said suspending the program would keep with past review practices — including for a program mentoring Black students at Bernie Custis and Sir Allan MacNab high schools that was paused for a month-long review in February.

Related Content

“We are hearing the cries of racialized students feeling injustice, feeling they’ve been targeted,” he said.

“We can’t even do the minimum, the minimum of just suspending the program and completing the review. That’s the piece that’s extremely shocking and hurtful.”

Tut also took aim at Toronto and Hamilton police unions for “disgusting comments” about a board anti-racism letter which called the death of a Toronto woman who fell from a highrise balcony, while officers were there, an act of anti-Black racism and violence.

The death is still being probed by the province’s civilian Special Investigations Unit, but the letter linked it to the killing of George Floyd, while in police custody in Minnesota, that has fuelled worldwide protests.

Tut said the letter from board chair Alex Johnstone and education director Manny Figueiredo “acknowledged the systemic and racial injustices and racism that occurs in the police force, in the school board.”

“For them being allies and coming forward, what did they get? They got torched by sophomoric comments by the police unions,” Tut said.

Miller, who pushed for the review, said a 2016 protocol with Hamilton police and the city’s four publicly-funded school boards provides no details on how often 11 officers, dedicated to the program, visit schools and what they can do once there.

“Black students matter in our schools. Their safety matters. Their dignity matters,” Miller said. “I’m very concerned about the potential for harm within this program, specifically but not exclusively to our Black student communities.”

Johnstone and other trustees who opposed suspending the program said they fear doing so might jeopardize student safety and go against calls for more police presence at schools heard by the board’s bullying review panel.

Trustees initiated the latter review in response to the public outcry after the stabbing death of 14-year-old student Devan Selvey outside Sir Winston Churchill last October.

Johnstone said the police program is an emotionally charged issue and “students should not be made to feel unsafe either way.”

She suggested a compromise could be a “significant reduction” in police presence at schools by finding others to do presentations on issues like cyberbullying, and limiting officers to roles like training for lockdown drills.

“I would not be comfortable suspending the entire program at this time, and I think that’s mainly because I do not know what the full impact would be,” Johnstone said. “I feel that I don’t have full facts right now.”

Ward 5 trustee Carole Paikin Miller said she’s heard from parents who see officers’ presence at schools as a benefit to students, but appreciates others “have a different experience of the police.”

“I accept that and respect it, and I don’t negate it or put it down, but I do think we need to be mindful of the opposite side of the coin,” she said.

But student trustee Ahona Mehdi, who attends Ancaster High School, said a suspension isn’t enough and she will seek a trustee to introduce a motion to terminate it at the board’s June 22 meeting.