December 9, 2021
Hon. Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education
315 Front Street, 14th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M7A 0B8
The Working Group Against Jew-Hatred Urges Minister of Education to Address Antisemitism in Ontario’s Public School System
Dear Minister Lecce,
On the evening of December 8, Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Trustees voted 10-7 to reject the Integrity Commissioner’s recommendation that Trustee Alexandra Lulka be found in breach of their code of conduct.
The unfortunate circumstances surrounding this entire episode are seen by many to be part of a progression of increasing antisemitism, which is alienating Jewish families in our public education system. Situations of antisemitism within the TDSB and other school boards in Ontario have been brought to the attention of the Minister of Education since 2020 and have not been adequately addressed.
The Governments of Canada and Ontario have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, as has the TDSB as early as 2018, but its implementation is sadly lacking. Instances of Jew hatred that are clearly identifiable under IHRA are consistently being ignored. This does not bode well for the safety of Jewish children, staff and administrators within our public school system.
The Working Group Against Jew-Hatred is extremely concerned that the recent attempt to punish Trustee Alexandra Lulka for speaking out against the circulation of antisemitic materials by a TDSB staff member demonstrates the need for better collaboration between your Ministry, the Jewish community and our public education system.
On December 7 the Jewish community and its supporters wore blue and white in a silent protest against antisemitism. We were all pleased to see that on the same day, you met with Trustee Lulka to discuss all of our concerns.
The increasingly hostile atmosphere in our school system appears to be exacerbated by what many see as a lack of oversight by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Given the increasing problems at several of Ontario's largest school boards, these matters need to be dealt with efficiently, effectively, and immediately.
The Working Group Against Jew-Hatred requests an in-person or virtual meeting with the Minister, and relevant Ministry staff, to discuss what actions are needed to address antisemitism in the public educational system. This cannot be delayed.
Michael Teper, Barrister & Solicitor, Toronto
Gila Martow, MPP, Working Group Coordinator
About the Working Group Against Jew-Hatred (AJH)
The Working Group Against Jew-Hatred (AJH) is a group of grassroot organizations concerned
with the rise of antisemitism in Ontario.
For more information, please contact: Becky Battat | email@example.com | 905-731-8462
(Minister Lecce, out of respect for your position, we are giving you 24 hour lead before this letter is shared publicly. Of course, we would prefer to hear from you directly.)