Ontario launches review of police removal of 4-year-old from Kitchener school

Ontario launches review of police removal of 4-year-old from Kitchener school

Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Friday that the province will be conducting an investigation into a recent incident at a Kitchener Catholic school in which Waterloo Regional Police officers responded to a call about a four-year-old Black student.

“Under no scenario should police be called to remove a four-year-old student from a school in this province,” Lecce said in a statement.

“Black and racialized parents continue to deal with these unacceptable situations that only demoralize and harm their children and families.”

He says a third party will be called in to conduct a review which will be turned over to both the family of the child and the board within two weeks.

Police confirmed that the incident occurred back at the end of November.

A police spokesperson said that officers were called to the school on Nov. 29, 2021, by administrators to deal with “a student in crisis, who was said to be acting violently.”

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They said that when officers arrived they began to work with the student to try and de-escalate the situation.

Police say school officials were having issues tracking down a family member. After they did, officers drove the child home to be with a family member.

In a statement, Parents of Black Children (PoBC), condemned the move, saying that officers were called in without consideration for the “emotional and mental impact” it would have on the child.

“This kind of criminalization starts at a startlingly young age by the education system,” said Charline Grant, PoBC chief advocacy officer.

“The racism our Black children experience is systematic abuse and contributes to the long-term emotional, physical, and mental health traumas that impact Black children and families permanently.”

Parents of Black Children joined the family and other groups in a meeting with the Waterloo Region District Catholic School Board last Wednesday to discuss the incident.

The board said it was following the province’s direction when the police were called in.

“While the actions taken on this situation followed provincially established policies and procedures, we welcome the objective analysis and the opportunity to learn how provincial practice can be refined and improved to better serve all our students,” said Lorretta Notten, WCDSB director.

Kevin Nielsen