November 2009

November 2009

Human Rights Application: The Regisford family and the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board have settled their differences in the “positive stereotyping” case. In a press release dated November 16, 2009, the School Board stated,

“The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board and the Regisford family have resolved an outstanding Application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to the satisfaction of both parties. The Regisfords are encouraged by the board’s commitment to diversity and equity, and look forward to the ongoing equity initiatives to be introduced in September 2010.”

Franklin Law represented the Regisford family. Mr. Regisford’s son was a student in High School. His son claimed that an English teacher made a stereotypical statement regarding his mother’s race. The School Board investigated and claimed that his human rights had not been violated.

Our argument at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario started from the proposition that every School Board has a responsibility to ensure that every student is given an opportunity to derive equal benefit from their educational experience. We believed that in order to satisfy that responsibility in the context of a racially and ethnically diverse student body, a School Board must ensure: (1) that all of its staff are given adequate training on dealing with and discussing issues of race and ethnicity, (2) that criteria related to staff members’ understanding and implementation of that training is incorporated into staff members’ performance reviews and (3) that when problems do arise, there is an effective and transparent system in place to investigate concerns raised by students, staff and parents and if necessary, hold individuals accountable.

We argued that Mr. Regisford’s son was negatively impacted by the comment he claimed the teacher made. But we also believed that the teacher was impacted in a negative way. We believed that his son and his teacher were put in a very difficult and unfortunate situation because of the manner in which the School Board addressed issues of race and ethnicity in its training, performance reviews and investigations.

After the Human Rights Tribunal heard evidence from all but one of the witnesses Ron Franklin intended to call, the parties agreed to resolve their differences. While the Application against the personal respondents, including the teacher at issue, was ultimately withdrawn and the School Board made no admission of liability, the dispute was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.