Tuesday, September 01, 2009

News: Teacher Cuts Student's Hair With A Knife, Parents Want Answers

Family Seeks Community Help for Police to InvestigateVancouver BC - August, 2009.
Abraham and Emy Belay are the parents of nine year old grade 4 pupils at Laura Second Elementary School in the Vancouver School District. They are seeking the support of members of the African/Black communities, human rights advocates, the media and the public, in their effort to get the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) to investigate a complaint by one of their sons that his teacher cut his hair in class with a knife.
According to the parents, this strange event occurred in early June after they met with Vancouver School Board officials to lodge complaints against school officials, including the teacher in question on June 1st 2009.Like many African/Black parents, Emy and Abraham have for the past two years been dealing with various issues related to what they have described as discrimination by school officials against their sons.
Until the hair cutting incident came to light, they had pursued their concerns via internal structures within the school system. Asked why they are going public now, Emy stated that “the assault on my son in class crossed the line, and the lack of interest in investigating this by both the School police as well as the VPD left us no option”.
The African Canadian parents, owners of the popular Afro Hair Studio on Commercial Drive noted that they were shocked at the lack of responds to investigate the report they made to the VPD. According to the parents, their son told them that his teacher came to class with a knife, saying “I am going to hurt someone”, walked to his desk, cut his hair with the knife and clipped it on the board for all the students to see. The boy only informed his parents about this incident two weeks later as a result of another incident on June 19th, 2009, in which he and his brother were locked up in separate rooms by the vice principal and forced to take a test called Essential Diagnostic Tools for Mental Math and Basic Operations. Earlier, the parents had previously objected to their children taking a psycho-educational test. “We told the twins not to take a test unrelated to their class work without our permission, and we made this known to school officials in an earlier meeting” they added.
According to Abraham, he cannot understand why a VPD Constable came to their shop on July 2nd, 2009, said nothing, gave them a file number and took off. He added that they called many more times to find out why nothing was being done and why no one from the VPD came to interview their son regarding the complaint. “We persisted and got another number from the non-emergency line to call”, added Emy. The parents called and left a message at this new number, and got a call back the next day. “The officer who picked up the phone was very aggressive on the phone, not interested in hearing my complaint regarding the teacher cutting the hair of my son in class. I was shocked beyond belief when this officer told me my kids misbehaved that is why, I could not believe it”. That was not all; the officer said to me "you are jerking up my ass"“We want the VPD to investigate this matter, Abraham and Emmy pay their taxes and expect the police to give them the same level of protection and service, how would you feel if your son came home to tell you such a story” Dr. C. Apaak, a Vancouver based human rights and social justice advocate noted. According to the parents, the reluctance of the VPD to investigate has caused them to remove their children from the school as they do not feel their kids will be safe. They now think that their son was attacked by the teacher because he and his brother were the only black kids in the class, as revenge for their complaint to the school board. “They are just kids, only nine years old and they are psychologically hurt, I have seen them”, according to Dr. Apaak. African/Black community leader and human rights advocates will be contacting all those who know about this issue, and will like to know why the VPD has yet to look into this issue. Dr. Apaak is currently reviewing two binders of material given to him by the parents to explore other ways to help them get to the bottom of this rather disturbing issue.
For More Information Contact:
Dr. C. Apaak: 778-895-9242
Abraham and Amy: 604-251-2512
Messia Ditshimba: 778-887-1098/604-272-1035
Source:Charles N. Nkansah

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