A Toronto mother says she plans to file a formal complaint after a substitute teacher at a Scarborough elementary school allegedly made a racist remark to her 11-year-old son.
It’s been more than a week since Abigail Francis’s son Isaiah, a Grade 6 student, found himself stunned at the response from the teacher at Norman Cook Public School.
It began like any other English assignment.
Isaiah and his class had been assigned a poetry exercise called, “All the places we love” on Nov. 28.
He didn’t quite understand the assignment, so he asked the teacher for clarification. The alleged response left him speechless, his mother says.
‘For you, in a dark alleyway like a crackhead’
“It means like home sweet home. Or maybe for you, in a dark alleyway like a crackhead,” Francis says the teacher told him.
Shocked, Isaiah returned to his seat trying to make sense of what he just heard, his mother says.
That’s when Francis says one of his classmates told him, “Listen dude, that wasn’t okay. If I had gone up and asked the same question, he wouldn’t have said that to me because I’m white.”
Isaiah, his mother points out, is a half-black, half-Indian and one of just three black students in his class. In Francis’s mind, the incident smacks of anti-black sentiment.
“When he said what he said it felt weird and wrong, and that he was directing it to me, I felt offended,” the 11-year-old told CBC Toronto.
After the incident, Francis says a group of her son’s classmates went with him to the principal’s office and corroborated his story.
“Having my friends talk about it with me made me feel a little bit better,” said Isaiah. “I felt nervous to go to the office but my friends being there helped me feel more confident.”
When Isaiah came home, he told his mother what had happened and what his fellow classmate said to him.
“He put into words exactly what Isaiah felt,” Francis said.
‘Completely unacceptable’ if true, says TDSB
The Toronto District School Board says it is aware of the “troubling” allegations and that staff are “actively investigating to determine what happened.”
In the meantime, says spokesperson Ryan Bird, the occasional teacher has been put on home assignment.
“If the allegation is founded, it is completely unacceptable and goes against the considerable work the TDSB is doing to combat racism, bias and oppression,” said Bird, adding the board is…