The Halifax Regional School Board has publicly responded to an article published this past weekend by The Chronicle Herald.
The article, which garnered widespread criticism both on the news website and on social media, made unsubstantiated claims about Chebucto Heights Elementary School, HRSB superintendent Elwin LeRoux wrote in a letter to staff.
“I was deeply offended to see the school represented so inaccurately. I know how hard teachers, administrators and support staff at Chebucto Heights have been working to support each student enrolled in the school,” LeRoux wrote.
The article alleged that a refugee student at the school choked another student with a chain, among other instances of violence against students by refugee children.
The allegations were made by two unnamed sources in the article.
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LeRoux said all conflicts and bullying at schools are dealt with seriously, and the article undermined the work of school staff.
“When I read the article in the Herald I didn’t think it captured the great things that our staff was doing, and I was particularly concerned that the students and the staff and the community at Chebucto Heights would feel deflated,” LeRoux told Global News Monday.
The Chronicle Herald’s newsroom staff have been on strike for more than 12 weeks, leaving temporary fill-in staff to run the publication.
The article has since been pulled down from the website and replaced with an apology note from The Chronicle Herald.
“Our story was incomplete and insufficiently corroborated, given the serious nature of the allegations,” the correction reads.
“We should have done better and we will.”
LeRoux also states in his letter to HRSB staff that he spoke to the owner of the Herald, Sarah Dennis, to express his concern about the misleading article.
“I told her that the accusations, the language and the tone of the article were both harmful and hurtful to students, staff and the community of Chebucto Heights – and to our entire school system. They’re also not true,” he wrote.
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He adds that Chebucto Heights, and other schools in the school board, work hard to make newcomers to their schools and communities feel welcome and supported.
*With files from Guillaume Lapointe-Gagner.