Ontario orders schools to reverse 'exclusionary' school activity ban on uniformed officers

Education Minister Stephen Leece has told Ontario’s school boards he will not allow them to ban uniformed police officers from attending school activities moving forward.

Ontario orders schools to reverse 'exclusionary' school activity ban on uniformed officers
Facebook/Doug Ford
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“I am writing to set out in the clearest terms my expectation that these parents, and others who proudly wear uniforms as part of their occupation, are to be welcomed to attend career fairs, Bring Your Parent to School Day, and other similar engagements that take place in schools,” writes Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

“Any parent of a student within a publicly funded school has the right to participate in their child’s education and school experience. This is a right that is non-negotiable for any parent, including those who serve in uniform from law enforcement to the Canadian Forces.”

The Ottawa Police Association (OPA) previously wrote to express their disappointment with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) for banning Ottawa police from speaking to students in uniform. 

The Grand Erie District School Board also banned uniformed police officers from attending school events for kindergarten and grade one students.

OCBSB board officials told officers expected to speak to grade one students they could only come if not in their uniform and without a police car, alleging it would ‘traumatize’ students. 

“Could someone please explain why? If we are trying to build relationships in the communities and educate students who may wish to pursue a future career in Emergency Services, how is this decision the appropriate course of action?” penned OPA President Matthew Cox in a letter earlier this month.

Cox called the OCDSB to “educate and not divide our community.” 

“As a parent who has attended and spoken to a kindergarten class in the past, I can assure you that every child in that room loved seeing the police uniform and having an opportunity to sit in the police car and turn the lights and siren on and off,” added Lecce.

Premier Doug Ford condemned the “disturbing trend” of marginalizing police officers because of their profession. “Police officers are the people we call when we need help,” he said. “They deserve so much better than this.”

Cox concurred with Ford, defending the “brave men and women” who wear the uniform. He said they “deserve better” and “should receive the same respect as any other profession.” 

Lecce added in his memo that uniform officers wear “a representation of their duty and their commitment.”

“School boards who have implemented this type of policy must reverse this decision and ensure our schools remain welcoming to frontline police and all first responders who work around the clock to keep families and schools safe,” wrote the education minister. 

Ottawa-Carleton and Grande Erie have formally apologized to the communities and students harmed by the ban on police officers.

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  • By Drea Humphrey

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