Board, school fumble badly on B.C. teen

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Brooklyn Mavis

Demands to apologize, recant accusations unwarranted, unjustified from P.E.I. board

Harassment, intimidation, discrimination and bullying are words one would normally hear as the result of actions of a student or students against a classmate. They are certainly not the words one expects to come from a parent and student against a school or school board.

The controversy surrounding 15-year-old B.C. student Brooklyn Mavis, who was told to stay home from a trip to P.E.I. because she has autism and epilepsy, is nothing short of a disgrace.

The P.E.I. English Language School Board and Bluefield Senior High School find themselves in a truly embarrassing situation. All the details have yet to come out, but it appears the worst affront is a demand from the P.E.I. board for the parent and student to apologize and recant accusations of discrimination made in the press. Only after the delicate feelings of the board are massaged would the student now be allowed to come on the trip.

That is indeed bullying. And shame on the board for making such a demand. “Say you’re sorry and you can come to our gentle Island.” Well, no thank you.

There are apologies needed here alright. They should come from the P.E.I. board, Bluefield and Education Minister Alan McIsaac to the B.C. teen, her mother, fellow classmates and the B.C. school.

It’s discrimination against a student to suggest she can stay in a motel room by herself — alone, isolated and ostracized — while her classmates are billeted at the homes of Bluefield students.

Mavis’ mother, Melanie Bowen, signed waivers about her daughter’s disabilities in November and Brooklyn was accepted to go on the trip scheduled for May 13. The B.C. teen and her family then fundraised for months.

P.E.I. students went to B.C. in March. It was on the first leg of the exchange that Brooklyn suffered a partial seizure, starting the chain of over-reaction. Now it’s time for B.C. students to come east and suddenly there is a problem. Brooklyn received a letter from Bluefield, telling her to stay home. One can only imagine how that made her and her classmates feel. The family went public while negotiations apparently continued behind the scenes seeking some sort of compromise or accommodation.

If there are concerns about Brooklyn’s health, they would best be known and addressed by her family, school and teachers in B.C. It should not be up to a school or school board on P.E.I. to decide if conditions are not safe or acceptable.

The board said it hopes that over time, perhaps Brooklyn would be a suitable candidate for exchange — as long as it’s some other school in some other province at some other time.

Why is board superintendent Cynthia Fleet so

surprised and disappointed by allegations of discrimination by the B.C. teen? What words would Ms. Fleet use to describe the treatment afforded Brooklyn?

A resolution between all parties for a support plan to ensure the student’s safety and inclusion in the trip was shattered when the board pressed forwarded with the apology and recantation demands.

The public attention made Brooklyn feel further victimized by having to take her story to the media. An apology and retraction is not a solution, it just makes things worse. And now a school, normally a welcoming and inclusive place, has turned its back on her.

Discussions continue to try and come to a resolution and allow Brooklyn to come to P.E.I. and feel welcome here. But now the teen no longer wants to come to the Island. That is a real tragedy.

Organizations: P.E.I. board, P.E.I. English Language School Board, Bluefield Senior High School

Geographic location: B.C., Brooklyn, P.E.I. Bluefield Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Darcie Lanthier
    May 01, 2014 - 16:41

    What is everyone so afraid of? Autism and seizures are not contagious the worst thing that could have happened?

  • JA
    May 01, 2014 - 15:33

    Did anyone check their facts? The BC school participated in the decision after a serious medical incident. Read between the lines. And why, if they were involved in discussions, is the Epilepsy association not participating in the media hysteria?