Students at an Ottawa high school are trying to get the principal fired because they say he is racist.
Some students at Hillcrest High School in Ottawa say they have been treated badly because they are black or brown. There have been rumors of racism at the school for months, and now the Ottawa Carleton District School Board is looking into what happened.
Mae Mason, a member of the Asilu Collective Board, said, "It's clear to the students that they're not getting the same treatment as their white peers."
Asilu Collective is a community group that wants to end a program that puts police officers in schools. They also run an anonymous reporting tool, and many black and racialized students have told them that staff at Hillcrest High School have been racist.
Students who did not want to be named told CTV News that things have gotten worse since the new principal came in February.
"The first week that our school's new principal was there, she followed me down the halls. She told me I didn't look like I was ready for school and that I didn't have a school bag "In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, one Hillcrest High School student who is 18 years old said the following:
"She waited for me outside the bathroom and followed me to class. A few weeks later, she told me that I would do better in adult high school and that I was causing other kids to get into trouble and not take school seriously "they kept going.
The student says that they later switched to online schooling so they wouldn't have to deal with the principal again.
Mason says that racialized students have told Asilu more than once that school staff is following them through the halls and even into the bathroom.
A 15-year-old student told CTV News, "She sent my cooking teacher into the bathroom. He started shaking the stall door and told me to get the f—— out."
"I came out of the bathroom and was sent to the principal's office, where she asked me to take off my shoes and socks to see if I was hiding a vape. She didn't find anything, but she put me on suspension for a few days because she thought I was acting strange at school "they kept going.
The student also said that they are new to the school and are worried about coming back the following year.
"It really just tells students that they are seen as criminals, troublemakers, and "others" before they are seen as students who are trying to learn," Mason said.
In one report to Asilu Collective, a student says the principal followed them down the hallway and, "made me open my pockets to show her that I wasn't going to smoke...
I had to go to the restroom."
Ottawa Bylaw Services told CTV News that they were called to Hillcrest High School because people were vaping, and on June 17 they gave people fines for vaping on school property.
Several people CTV News talked to say that the student who was fined almost $800 was picked on because she is black.
Muslim students also said they had been treated unfairly. One student told CTV News that they felt like they were being judged every time they prayed every day.
"People would ask me how long I took. I was told that my prayer should take three minutes, and she will look at the cameras to see where I was during the time I was outside of class "he or she wrote.
Now, there are two petitions that want the principal to be fired.
The Ottawa Carleton District School Board says they are aware of the petitions and are taking the allegations seriously.
"The concerns raised have shown us that some students don't feel like they have a voice," Darcy Knoll, an OCDSB spokesperson, said in an email statement.
"We will work to connect with students as we move into the next school year so that we can learn and grow together. We want to hear what they have to say so we can better understand their worries. We also want to work with them to make an environment that meets their needs."
Advocates say work needs to go faster and warn that if things don't move faster over the summer, there could be more alleged incidents when school starts again.
The school board is looking into what happened, and CTV News has heard from multiple sources that students are now talking to the board's Human Rights and Equity Advisor.