Cornwall Ontario – Such a simple act. Someone etches a swastika on a wall. It’s just an image and we have to apologize for the poor quality of the photo taken with an iPod in poor bathroom lighting; but imagine if you’re from a family of holocaust survivors and you see that image while in a washroom after work in of all places…..a school.
It’s not the end of the world; so you go to another washroom, one right next to a library, and lo and behold there it is again.
You’re a mature professional adult so you finish your activity and decide to give the principal of the school a call.
She says the right things; but sure enough when you come back the next week there are the same two Swastikas.
The question then is how many young minds have been exposed to those symbols of hate during the week that has passed by? But you’re busy and it’s only graffiti in a school washroom, right? The principal probably forgot, right?
Another phone call. A joke about how she doesn’t go into boys bathrooms and the next time you return, there they are again.
So you make a visit. Words are exchanged; nothing heated, nothing nasty, all polite and then you come back again and there are those same swastikas staring at you from their places on the walls.
The question that has to be asked of CCVS Principal Patricia Brown is why she didn’t resolve the issue in the manner that Vice Principal Jason Wagensveld did today when the member of the public and I visited the school this morning. Maintenance staff present stated that they had received no notice or request to remove the Swastikas from the principal previously and were surprised themselves finding them.
The swastikas were still there. Mr. Wagensveld took matters in hand and within hours had called me to share that they were gone. He also ensured that the other washrooms would be inspected. The school during my visit this time, as in the past has always been clean and a credit to the Maintenance staff including the person they employ to remove graffiti.
We emailed Principal Brown, but she did not respond. I phoned the Upper Canada District School board and heard back from a trustee who identified herself as Valerie via phone. She refused to provide a written statement. She cited employee confidentiality in relation to Principal Brown and suggested an anti-racism day at the School; but frankly this school isn’t the issue, nor are the kids.
The sole issue is why did Principal Patricia Brown apparently ignore multiple notifications of the greatest symbol of hate of the 20th Century being exposed to her students?
Anita Bromberg, National Director, Legal Affairs of Bnai Brith sent in the following statement;
“The fact that the chief school administrator failed to act, especially after the matter was brought to her direct attention, is in breach of the Zero Tolerance policy that should have guided her..That she would allow these images of hate to remain, and therefore be etched in the minds of her students, is simply unacceptable..Perhaps it would be appropriate for school board administrators to reinforce what a Zero Tolerance policy actually means?.Hopefully because of the dedication of a member of the public school officials and supervisors will do the right thing.”
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