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Hamilton public school board still weighing sanctions against four trustees

Former Hamilton school board student trustee Ahona Medhi called for the removal of four board members during a Facebook Live session on Feb. 4, 2021. Hamilton Students for Justice / Facebook

The chair of Hamilton’s public school board says a decision could be made “in the next week or two,” around whether to sanction four trustees at the centre of a code of conduct review.

Dawn Danko says any “proportional sanctions” are on the table in the wake of a third-party report that found evidence of racism and efforts to silence the voice of former student trustee, Ahona Mehdi.

Read more: Former student wants Hamilton public school board to replace 4 trustees following racism investigation

Danko says potential sanctions could include “whether they can attend meetings for a period of time, whether they can participate in certain votes for a period of time.”

“If you look at this from a natural justice and procedural fairness perspective,” says Danko, “we need to make sure that sanctions are proportional to what was done, and that’s the piece we need to go into a bit further.”

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Read more: Hamilton public school board apologizes to former student trustee following racism review

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s own human rights and equity committee has called for the resignations of the four trustees at the centre of the controversy after the third party review substantiated many of Mehdi’s claims, but found “insufficient evidence” of others.

The 67-page report, released at the beginning of February by a Toronto law firm, found that on a “balance of probabilities,” the four trustees exhibited racist behaviour and/or tried to silence the voice of a former student trustee when she tried to speak up about controversial topics.

Read more: Toronto human rights lawyer to investigate racism allegations at Hamilton school board

Mehdi says there must be “zero tolerance for racism and discrimination,” adding that waiting for action has her feeling “super frustrated.”

Mehdi notes that students and staff are held to a specific standard in regards to their conduct within schools. She adds that we need to ensure that elected officials at the board are “holding themselves to that same standard.”

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