Safety concerns over possible racial violence growing at Saunders Secondary
LONDON, Ont. - London police confirm they have been working with parents and officials at Saunders Secondary School to quell violence among students that has flared up over the last couple of weeks.
The violence is reported to be racial in nature.
A meeting involving parents, police, the principal and school board officials got underway at 7:30 Friday morning and lasted much of the day.
Friday’s developments come after Oneida First Nation cancelled school buses for its children who attend Saunders.
A letter that went out to parents and guardians says there are safety concerns with fights that have occurred between First Nation students and other students at Westmount Mall, which is across the road from Saunders.
It reads in part, “To ensure the health & safety of our students, Oneida Education is encouraging students to stay on school property or if you must leave the school – go in groups (don’t take off by yourself).”
According to multiple accounts from students there have been a number of altercations between First Nations students and students of Middle Eastern descent.
They reportedly began on Sept. 30, which was Orange Shirt Day - a day to raise awareness of Canada’s history with the residential school system.
Parent Pamela Chrisjohn was so concerned, she pulled her daughter from Westmount Public School Friday, which is right next to Saunders.
“I took her out of school in protest of the board not making aware to the rest of administration at the other schools like the public schools that are right here. You need to be sharing this information,” she said angrily.
“Again, it’s reconciliation time, and what action is being taken to ensure the safety of all of our kids?”
Police say so far they have received no official complaints of assaults at the school, but they are increasing police presence during and after school.
An extra police officer has been hired to be at Saunders next week, if a labour disruption doesn’t force the closure of the school.