Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Ontario Human Rights Commission Travesty

Recently, I met Kathy Shaidle and Ezra Levant at a presentation in London Ontario about the Human Rights Commissions in Canada. Both of these people have been working tirelessly to bring to the light of day the injustices that have been occurring at the hands of the Federal, Provincial and Territorial human rights commissions and tribunals.

I have heard them and read both of their books and have read their blogs linked above. I also became aware of an ongoing case before the Ontario HRC which is shocking to me, as I know the person that is being charged by the HRC and know the circumstances.

For most of us the thought of an organisation set up to protect the human rights of our fellow citizens sounds like a good thing, and I was one of them. However, as I found out, an organisation that is autonomous and fundamentally not accountable to anyone is bound to lose its way and become corrupt, and this is what this case, and those reported by Ms. Shaidle and Mr. Levant and others has discovered.

Here are the fundamental components of a case that the rocket scientists who protect us from each other have developed against a grade school principal in a large school board in a large municipality in Ontario and her school board. Since this is an ongoing case, I have not named any of the parties other than the Ontario HRC to protect everyone's identity at this time.

Here are the key details of the complaint. The complaint which was lodged on behalf of a grade 5 student through his mother arose in March of 2007. The complaint was lodged against the student's principal and against the school board for whom the principal works. Under the rules of the HRCs when a complaint is lodged, all investigation and legal costs of the complaint on behalf of the complainant (the student and his mother in this case) is paid for by the HRC. The costs to defend the complaint (by the principal and school board in this case), no matter how frivolous the case, are borne by the defendant.

I have known the members of the family of the principal for many years, and have discussed this at length with the principal and have reviewed all the legal documents that currently exist.

By way of background, the principal was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and had a double mastectomy. At the same time, her 16 year old daughter, obviously unwed, was pregnant and delivered a baby that was put up for adoption. Shortly thereafter, the principal's husband got prostate cancer and was successfully operated on. All of this transpired by the end of May 2006. But that was the easy part of that year, as the daughter subsequently became a drug addict, and the principal and her husband had to remove her from their home to an apartment, while trying to get help for her, and save their marriage at the time. To say that daughter was hell on wheels for them would be kind, and it was not until mid 2007 (after the complaint was lodged) that they were able to obtain a rehab placement for her. This was all going on while the insanity of trying to deal with the HRC started up.

The daughter did a long and very successful rehab and is a very diligent member of AA. She is now the most sweet and mature 19 year old young lady that you would want to know. The principal is now cancer free, though the risk of recurrence is high, and when she was not being supported by her school board in a manner that suited her needs she took all the sick days that she could manage, and then retired. Except for the angst she feels about the ongoing HRC zaniness her life is full and real. The husband is also cancer free, and their marriage shows signs that it will survive.

The background of the parent complaint against the principal is as follows and of course is not all in the HRC files since they do not care to see what they are dealing with. Background, shmackground. Who needs background? We got a complaint, which gives us a target, and a victim, no matter how frivolous. We are on the job.

The parent is acting on behalf of a student who is claiming bullying and racial discrimination. The family is dark skinned, and of a student population at the time in the particular school of about 300 approximately 12 were dark skinned. Also 1 teacher of the teaching staff of about 10 was also a person of colour.

The student came to the principal's school in grade 5 after numerous previous transfers. In retrospect, one has to ask why. However, he apparently has an asthmatic condition, and there is some notice of it dated in 2002 in his file.

The mother immediately started to make a pest of herself coming on to the school property at any time, and entering the classroom without permission when she chose. The principal informed her that this was not appropriate, as had principals of previous schools her son had attended. The mother became verbally abusive, calling the principal names. On occasions when the mother did not come to the school, she would call the school and speak to the principal to tell her to remind the student to wear his coat to go out at recess, or not to go out at recess because it was too cold. Apparently, the student was not able to remember instructions given to him at the breakfast table, and the principal and staff at the school were really merely errand personnel for this particular parent, having nothing more substantial to do with their days. Big surprise, the principal and the teacher balked at taking on this role. So, the parent became verbally abusive on the phone.

After one such confrontation, the principal had the parent speak to a superintendent of the school board, whom she promptly told to F??? Off. He did not take too kindly to this, and requested that the principal obtain a No Trespass Order from the local police to prevent this parent from coming on the premises. This, of course, left the mother with a phone which she continued to use. The principal refused to take her phone calls, so she resorted to using the Fax machine.

It would come as a big surprise to me to discover that her child was in no way influenced by this rude and verbally violent behavior by his own parent. However the HRC has a target, and a weapon, and on we go.

The child, in the words of the principal was not bullied but gave as good as he got. The kids who allegedly bullied him were 2 Filipino kids, and a couple of others.

One particular day was a beautiful snowy day, and kids of various grades made snow forts. However boys from grade 5 broke some of them and so a situation arose. The principal believed that two particular miscreants, the complainant and a white boy were involved, and questioned them in her office. Their stories did not match, and so the principal decided to leave them alone in her office to discuss the situation among themselves until they could come to a common understanding of the issue and a common statement of facts.

However, while she was gone from her office the complainant stole $6 from her desk, of which she did not become aware until the next day. The details of this were a bit convoluted, but on a subsequent day the complainant arrived with an apology note confessing to the crime.

The principal suspended him for one day to be spent in her office doing work assigned by his teacher. This was to show all students the seriousness of the situation, and to show the student himself the seriousness of the situation.

Part of the complaint against the principal is that she did not suspend the other student because he was white. In the principal's opinion the other student did not participate in the theft, and the complainant confessed to it. She also did not suspend any of the other white students in the school who did not steal the money. But in fairness, she did not suspend any of the other non white students who did not steal the money.

The other major part of the complaint focuses on a piece of nebulizer equipment for the student’s asthma that the mother wanted in the school and to be administered by staff at the school. School board policy is that to bring such equipment onto school property an appropriate medical release must be signed and filled in by a medical practitioner to ensure that it is needed and that the school will not be liable as a result of its use on school property, not an unreasonable request. The principal refused to allow the equipment on school property until the forms were filled in and signed and she provided them to the parent to get prepared. They have never been submitted to the school, though claims of the system or really the principal being barbaric (I wonder if barbarism is a form of bullying or racism?) have been made.

In documentation about the principal and her work, the board referenced her exemplary behavior including her dealing with mixed races. Is there any possibility that the problem is with the parent here? How will we ever know? The parent is not the target.

The HRC has offered to the school board as a settlement that the board pay the student $10,000, remove the notice of the one day suspension from the student’s Ontario Student Record, remove the No Trespass Order against the mother, provide training in racial sensitivity to the teachers and to the particular defendant (the principal, now retired) and a few other gems of HRC wisdom which will make the world a safer place.

It all begs the question of what the HRC is doing involved in matters that need to be adjudicated within the school community. It is very obvious that the mother is the bully, and that the only racist is the mother, but, since she is not white skinned, she is not likely to be the target of the HRC.

I have intentionally not provided specific names and locations here since this is an ongoing action, and parties have signed documents not to disclose certain facts. That does not hide the insanity that is present.

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