Waterloo Catholic board receives report on police removal of 4-year-old from Kitchener school

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board says it has received the results of an independent report into an incident last year in which Waterloo Regional Police responded to a call at a Kitchener school about a four-year-old boy.

“We deeply regret the obvious hurt and distress caused to this young child in our care, and to his family, and indeed the Black community,” said board chair Loretta Notten in response to the report, which has not been released to the public year .

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“I want to assure the family, and the community, that we are committed to doing better. We will do what needs to be done locally. We will also highlight the changes that need to happen provincially to support students in crisis.”

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The board received its copy of the report on Wednesday and Notten said that she plans to provide more information about it during a board meeting on April 4.

She also said that “the report is a blueprint for further action for us — on anti-Black racism, on how we support a student in crisis, and on our relationships with parents.”

Notten also explained “that there are more students than ever presenting with violent behaviors that risk and cause physical injuries to the student themselves, as well as other students and staff. It is likely quite challenging for someone outside of the education realm who has not experienced such a situation to imagine a scenario with a child so young, yet this is a reality in schools across the province.”

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She went on to say that there are plans in place to deal with these types of situations but once all educational strategies are exhausted, the last option is to call 911 for help.

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.”

They said officers worked with the student to de-escalate the situation.

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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 released in February, 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.”

After the incident was publicized in February, Education Minister Stephen Lecce called for an independent review, with a report to be in the hands of both parents and the school board by the end of March.

“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 at the time.

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

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