April 15, 2019

Director's statement regarding anti-Semitic concerns raised over class project

​Administrators at Stephen Lewis Secondary School have been made aware of a class project being undertaken as part of a grade 12 Equity and Social Justice: From Theory to Practice course. At that time, concerns were raised that the project and a poster that students hung in a school hallway are anti-Semitic and that the campaign they had chosen to raise awareness on is based on non-credible sources.​

School administrators contacted board office staff and the school's superintendent of education to determine next steps. On Friday, the poster was removed pending a full investigation, led by the school's superintendent of education. That investigation began immediately and is ongoing. We recognize that the poster should have been taken down when concerns were first raised, while we looked into it. For this, we apologize. 

As of Friday afternoon, the school and Peel District School Board have heard concerns of anti-Semitism from organizations and individuals outside of the Peel community. We recognize the severity of the hurt and harm that the class project has caused for members of the Jewish community and others inside and outside of Peel Region. Your concerns of anti-Semitism are heard and we commit to a full review of the project, guided by the board's Safe Schools and Equity and Inclusive Education policies. 

What we've been able to learn to date tells us that there are gaps in understanding that we need to address through education. Are we prepared to work with local Jewish faith leaders and other community leaders to address the concerns and restore a sense of safety and respect for all? Absolutely. We will do this being mindful that we must also be sensitive to the well-being and safety of those who participated in the class project. This is a responsibility we take seriously as our duty of care extends to all members of the school community. 

Although our investigation continues, and we have more to learn about the project and its goals, we acknowledge that we must seek the support of community experts in our learning. That will happen over the next few days. 

We'd like to thank members of the Jewish community, including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs who we've already been in touch with, for bringing this to our attention. Due to privacy laws, we will not be able to share the outcome of the investigation with individuals that are not directly involved. However, we want everyone to know that we commit to a comprehensive investigation that is focused on repairing hurt and harm, and to restoring positive climates for learning and working for all. 

 

Peter Joshua

Director of Education​

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