The election of the new vice president of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is receiving some pushback from current and former student trustees, as well as advocates for racialized students.
At a December 6 board meeting, Becky Buck, Trustee for Districts 8 and 14, was elected Vice President of the HWDSB, while District 8 Trustee Dawn Danko was re-elected as President.
Buck is one of four trustees indirectly referenced in a third-party review published in early 2021 that validated former student Ahona Mehdi’s accusations of racism and censorship on the board.
While two other trustees were sanctioned as a result of that review, Buck and a fourth trustee were not found to have violated code of conduct rules and received no sanctions from their fellow board members.
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Mehdi has since spoken out on Buck’s choice as vice chairman of the board, calling the decision “daunting” during an appearance on Global News Radio 900 CHML. Hamilton today.
“It was also disturbing to watch, but definitely not surprising,” he said in an interview two days after the election. “I think over and over again, we’ve seen the school board protect racists, and we’ve seen the school board even promote racists.”
The report, which refers to Buck as Trustee 2, found that she questioned the need for a trustee for Indian students, saying it would be “unfair” and “unfair” to other students, and also referred to community advocates who they criticized the police. Official liaison program like “Twitter Trolls.”
Mehdi said the report was ultimately without consequences for two of the trustees, including Buck.
“The trustees voted to protect her by writing the report. The trustees voted to protect her by not sanctioning her. And this was the result. It’s been months and these things, you know, go unnoticed and now she’s our vice president. “
An advocacy group called Hamilton Students For Justice, which was created after Mehdi made his allegations public, is calling for Buck’s removal as vice president.
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The group held a “watch party” on Monday in front of HWDSB headquarters to voice the lawsuit.
During Board meeting Monday, current student trustees Aisha Mahmoud and Deema Abdel Hafeez presented a report that included “concerns” about the election of the new vice president raised by black and indigenous students.
“We have heard from our student communities that they are extremely disappointed with the vice president’s nomination and election,” said Mahmoud. “It is quite frustrating for these students to see the board claim to uphold the values of fairness and inclusion and yet see the majority of the board act hypocritically.”
Buck responded to the student trustees’ report, referring to the comments made as “false” and “personally derogatory.”
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While the Mahmoud and Abdel Hafeez report did not directly call for the board to remove Buck as vice president, student council members urged board members to “reflect” on the decision.
“With all due respect, we ask that the entire board of directors reflect on recent decisions and consider the perspectives of all members of our community on the message this has conveyed,” said Abdel Hafeez. “We make this request with the utmost respect and consideration for our student body.”
Danko thanked the student trustees for sharing their peers’ perspectives and also noted that nothing is stopping Buck from playing the role of vice president.
“There was no violation found to require sanctions for the vice president, and the vice president has committed and completed all of the required training that we committed to through the 12 recommendations in the investigative report.”
He added that he would take the recommendation to reflect seriously and hoped there would be opportunities to mend relationships with students through “ongoing dialogue.”
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