Education mister Stephen Lecce says Donna Blackburn’s actions were ‘shameful’ and ‘racist’

CBC News · Jul 08, 2020

OCDSB trustee Donna Blackburn, seen here in 2016, is being urged to resign by Ontario’s education minister over the way she admonished a Black teen who was violating COVID-19 physical distancing rules in March. (CBC)

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce is calling on an Ottawa school trustee who confronted a Black teen for not abiding by COVID-19 physical distancing rules to step down.

Donna Blackburn’s actions were deemed “anti-Black racism” by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board last month, with nine of its 12 trustees voting that she had violated the board’s code of conduct.

On March 27, Blackburn admonished Styles Lepage, 17, for playing basketball at a Barrhaven park and posted a photo of the encounter on facebook.

Blackburn claimed she was acting as a concerned citizen, but Lepage alleged she singled him out while he played alone, noting there were others playing soccer and baseball in the park.

In a subsequent Facebook post, the teen’s father implied Blackburn had focused on his son because of the colour of his skin, and told CBC News he wanted her to resign.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce called Blackburn’s actions an ‘abuse of her privilege.’ (Rene Johnston/The Canadian Press)

‘Abuse of her privilege’

At Queen’s Park Wednesday, Lecce said he had “deep concern” about how Blackburn handled the situation, and the impact it could have on the teen.

“I’ve spoken to the father of this young man, and it is so obvious that they expect better, and accountability and justice for this type of bad judgment demonstrated by trustee Blackburn,” Lecce said.

“As stated by members of the community, it was shameful, it was racist, it was abuse of her privilege. It is clear that this trustee must do the right thing and step down.”

As part of the punishment imposed at its June meeting, the OCDSB banned Blackburn from sitting on multiple board committees for a six-month period, and also recommended she resign.

School boards in Ontario do not have the power to remove trustees. Blackburn has previously apologized for her comments and said she regrets her Facebook post admonishing the teen.

Source: CBC News