For Media Inquiries & Assistance Please Call: 1-800.735.4086

Pearson Board denies allegations of systemic racism, assault

By Joel Ceausu The Suburban, May 3, 2023

Karen Freeman’s “worst nightmare” came true when her 12-year-old son reached into his backpack for a bag of Doritos, and ended up with bruises, a hospital visit, and missing school for  four months.
Physical assault, threats, racist language, institutional indifference: a slew of accusations aimed at the Lester B. Pearson School Board where two families share remarkably similar stories about the same school, same personnel. The board has denied all the allegations.
Freeman says a teacher's comment about her son’s snack choice led to the discovery of a digital device in his backpack and a trip to the principal’s office. Before he was sent home, he tried to exit, she told reporters Thursday, and an administrator allegedly used force to stop him, “squishing” him in the door. She took her son to hospital where she said she was advised to check his urine for blood over the following days.
“We’re just trying to protect our children,” said a tearful Svetlana Chernienko at the press conference held by the Red Coalition (RC) acting on behalf of the two families. Her experiences were also harrowing, her eight-year-old-child with autism and speech difficulties, labelled as “disobedient,” and she claims was assaulted by an integration worker and subject to repeated torment.
The 2022 incidents both involved black children at the same school – Saint-Patrick’s Elementary School in Pincourt – and both women claimed administrators showed indifference and hostility. “Black mothers are always being told we are inept,” says Chernienko, “that we don’t understand. It’s enough… We hear about pink shirt day and anti-bullying campaigns, well what happens if the people handing out those shirts and running the campaigns are the bullies?”
The RC says reports to school administrators, teachers, board officials as well as the Ombudsman “have been dismissed as insignificant… Not only is this troubling,” says executive director Joel DeBellefeuille, “but the ways described by both parents of how they felt ignored and neglected by the Lester B. Pearson School Board are strikingly similar. There appears to be a systemic problem here.”
The Coalition wrote to the LBPSB asking for a prompt meeting with its Task Force – struck following multiple and very public disturbing accounts of anti-black racism by and against students – to “discuss these serious racially sensitive matters, prior to engaging the Quebec Ministry of Education and the Anti-Racism Minister to investigate.” That Task Force was disbanded after it produced a report.
The board was unequivocal: “The Lester B. Pearson School Board categorically denies the allegations that are being made by two families,” it said in a statement. "The parents’ complaints have been handled at the school board level where numerous meetings were held or offered. In one instance, an investigation of the Student Ombudsman is still ongoing. In the other instance, the parent chose not to follow up with the Student Ombudsman, who could therefore not proceed with the investigation.”
The LBPSB has gone “above and beyond to accommodate the students involved by offering numerous solutions and options, which unfortunately have been rejected by the families,” it reads, adding, “after it learned of the Red Coalition’s request to meet on Friday April 28, the school board had every intention of meeting with its officials. We are surprised and disappointed the Red Coalition decided to turn to the media instead of respecting the deadline they had indicated.”
The board added an invitation will be sent “to resolve these matters as expeditiously as possible,” and it remains committed to continue playing a key role in the fight to combat all forms of injustice, racism and discrimination. Indeed, Lester B. Pearson director-general Cindy Finn wrote to the RC on Friday that she was ready to discuss the files and “more generally, the school board's work on equity and inclusion.”
Freeman says she was told her son would not be welcome back to the school, and received recommendations for other schools, including a few hours per week at a local high school for her 12 year old. She says she received no formal notice of expulsion but meanwhile continues to receive communications from her son’s former teachers advising her on what he should be studying. He has not been in school for some four months.
Both parents report having been contacted by youth protection (DPJ) about their choice of removing their child from the school, and both say files were immediately closed once the situation was explained, and a human rights complaint filed with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse against the school board.
Whatever comes of those complaints, Alain Babineau says the RC will also file a criminal complaint in relation to the alleged assaults. Chernienko added “it's time for all parents of black children in the LBPSB to speak up and come forward about their experiences… I'm raising black children, I'm always afraid,” she told reporters. “School should be a safe place. I should not have to be afraid sending my child to school.”



Family of Montreal man killed while unlawfully jailed wants systemic racism inquiryLa famille de l’homme demande une enquête sur le racisme systémiqueSystemic racism inquiry called for by family of man who died after being pepper-sprayed at Bordeaux prisonDétenu mort à la prison de Bordeaux: une coalition exige plus de transparence sur le milieu carcéralUN GROUPE ANTIRACISTE RÉCLAME UNE ENQUÊTE PUBLIQUE SUR LA MORT DU DÉTENU DE BORDEAUXRights group seeks public inquiry into death of man in Montreal jailLobby group seeks public inquiry in Montreal man's jail deathAnti-racism group calls for release of video in connection with Montreal jail deathCivil rights group calls for inquiry into death of illegally jailed 21-year-old black manUne coalition réclame la publication de la vidéo de l’interventionLobby group seeks public inquiry, release of video in Montreal man’s jail deathAnti-racism group claims Quebec told Longueuil police to ignore court order on racial profilingAllison Hanes: Montreal prison death demands urgent answersRed Coalition: Quebec ministry told Longueuil police force to defy court order on racial profilingQuebec told Longueuil police to disregard court order on racial profiling, says anti-racism groupCivil rights group accuses Quebec of covering up race-based police dataQue s’est-il passé à Bordeaux ?Public inquiry ordered into jail death of illegally detained Montreal manPublic inquest to be held into death of man in Montreal jailChief coroner orders public inquiry into death of 21-year-old illegally detained at Bordeaux jailCoroner orders public inquiry into Montreal man's jail deathIl y aura une enquête publique du coroner sur la mort de Nicous SpringRed Coalition calling for investigation into systemic racism in Quebec jailsChief Coroner orders public inquiry into death of Nicous SpringPolice union head tells Montreal's new chief: staffing shortages 1st, community policing 2ndPROFILAGE RACIAL: UNE PLAINTE OFFICIELLE DÉPOSÉE CONTRE LA VILLE DE LONGUEUILCoalition alleges contempt of court against LongueuilPROFILAGE RACIAL: «LA CAQ DOIT TENIR SES PROMESSES», ESTIME LA COALITION ROUGEGroups to kick off Black History Month with measures to fight racism
Anti-racism group accuses Montreal-area school of systemic racismCalls grow to change streets named after Christopher Columbus on island of MontrealQuebec sisters afraid to go school, say racism complaints ignoredGroup says private school near Montreal ignored racism complaintsCas de racisme et de cyberintimidation au Collège Bourget de RigaudUn citoyen souhaite «annuler» Christophe Colomb à Pointe-ClaireRACISME ET CYBERINTIMIDATION: LE COLLÈGE BOURGET MIS EN DEMEUREBlack anti-racism groups lob volleys at Canada and QuebecProminent Quebeckers voice support for Trudeau’s anti-Islamophobia representativeProminent Québecers plead for federal anti-Islamophobia rep to be given a chancePetition against Bill 21 tabled at National AssemblyMontreal police brotherhood says it's too easy to blame its members for racial profilingLongueuil, other Quebec police slow in implementing race-based data frameworkAucune accusation ne sera portée contre les policiers qui ont tué Junior OlivierCalls for police accountability as officers who fatally shot Jean René Olivier face no chargesLack of care on Loyola property "unacceptable":DeBellefeuilleGroups call to cancel puppet show featuring minstrel characterUn spectacle pour enfants sème la controverse dans l’ouest de MontréalUn exemple de « racisme systémique », dénoncent des associationsLocal Montreal play carries on despite upset over controversial puppetFamily of man killed by Repentigny police says lawsuit incomingLa mère de Jean-René Junior Olivier poursuit la Ville de RepentignyLa mère de Jean-René Junior Olivier, abattu par des policiers de Repentigny en août 2021, a déposé une poursuite contre la Ville de RepentignyFamily of Black man killed by Repentigny police files to sue city for $430K in damages


no categories


no tags