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YRDSB investigating 'disturbing' tweets linked to East Gwillimbury trustee: board chair

An integrity commissioner is investigating an alleged connection between Trustee Liz Terrell-Tracey and a Twitter account that has repeatedly attacked the autistic community
Screenshot 2021-04-30 at 1.54.07 PM

York Region District School Board has launched an investigation into "hurtful and disturbing comments" posted on Twitter that are allegedly affiliated with one of its trustees, according to a message from its board chair.

The school board's independent integrity commissioner will lead the investigation, according to YRDSB board chair Cynthia Cordova.

"I want to assure families, students, staff and community members that the comments shared by this account do not represent the views or values of the Board of Trustees or the York Region District School Board," Cordova stated in a message posted April 29.

"This is my only Twitter account," responded East Gwillimbury/Whitchurch-Stouffville Trustee Liz Terrell-Tracey on Twitter to the message from the chair, in regards to the statement that an unnamed trustee is linked to the online comments.

Other users posted screenshots of "autistophobic" tweets posted by the account Swag Song — which has since been deleted — that has attacked the autistic community over the last two years.

The alleged connection between the Swag Song account and Terrell-Tracey was revealed when she responded using her personal account, which identifies her by name.

"I am a teacher in your school board and a special needs mom to my son who has autism. This is not acceptable. We teach acceptance," one user posted. "Something must be done to fire this trustee. If the roles were reversed swift action would be taken for a teacher making slanderous comments."

The controversial trustee was the subject of an integrity commissioner investigation shortly after her election in 2018 as a result of complaints about racist and xenophobic comments. The investigation found in June 2019 that Terrell-Tracey had violated the trustee code of conduct, following which the board banned her from attending meetings until June 2020 and limited communications with constituents. 

The board does not have the power to fire an elected official under Ontario's Municipal Elections Act. 

"At YRDSB, we are committed to creating safe and inclusive environments for all our students and their families where diversity is celebrated and supported. We take great pride in this and are sorry that the comments and posts in question do not reflect those values," Cordova said. 

"Again, we are sorry for the hurt and pain this has caused and will be working with our Independent Integrity Commissioner to investigate this issue."


Debora Kelly

About the Author: Debora Kelly

Debora Kelly is NewmarketToday's community editor. She is an award-winning journalist and communications professional who is passionate about building strong communities through engagement, advocacy and partnership.
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