A number of students have been expelled from St. George’s private school in Vancouver over alleged racist behaviour, sources close to the school tell Global News.
According to the sources, who have asked for their identities to be concealed in order to speak freely, the students were involved in a neo-Nazi Facebook group. Others said the posts were mostly on Instagram.
It’s not yet known how many students are involved or what the specific actions that got them expelled are.
In a statement, St. George’s School said that “a number” of students were involved in “deeply offensive behaviour online and in the school” that contravened its Student Code of Conduct and Core Values.
“We immediately launched an investigation which included contacting our VPD school liaison officer. Our liaison officer has confirmed that this was not a criminal matter,” reads the statement.
“We have found no safety risk to the school community. As a result of our investigation, a number of boys have been suspended and several have been expelled.”
St. George’s says it can not provide any other information due to “confidentiality obligations.”
In a statement Thursday evening, the Ministry of Education said it plans to conduct an inspection of the school in November “to ensure their policies and operations are in line with the Independent School Act.”
Provincial laws include anti-bullying and harassment policies in line with the B.C. Human Rights Code that apply to all private schools, the ministry added.
“Any report of racist behaviour is very concerning,” the ministry said. “As soon as the ministry became aware of this incident it immediately contacted the school.”
The ministry would not comment further on the incident citing privacy laws.
A letter sent to parents and other members of the St. George’s School community on Oct. 2 and obtained by Global News announces the school’s headmaster, Dr. Tom Matthews, is retiring.
The letter does not mention any incident or reason for Matthews’ retirement, only highlighting his “long and distinguished career as a professional educator.”
Alex Tsakumis, a former student and past president of the school’s alumni association, said the incident demanded a full investigation.
“Clearly there’s something wrong, and it behooves the board of directors to immediately call everyone, every single one of the school’s constituencies together, and see how something like this could have happened in this day and age,” he said.
Tsakumis said he understands some of the comments made by the students on the Facebook group were “extremely anti-Semitic.”
“I’m very hurt by it,” he said. “It was a great school at one time, and I think anybody who grew up during my era certainly knows that there would have been absolutely no chance for anyone to survive at the school had they committed to this kind of abominable behaviour.”