Students rally outside Kingsville District High School, February 23, 2024. (Photo by Maureen Revait) Students rally outside Kingsville District High School, February 23, 2024. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

Unpopular school name draws ire from MPP, prompts petition

The decision to name the new kindergarten to Grade 12 school in Kingsville "Erie Migration Academy" has prompted a letter from a local MPP and a petition.

The Greater Essex County District School Board of Trustees chose the name last Tuesday. Trustee Julia Burgess introduced a motion to accept the name, even though it wasn't on a short list of approved names for consideration.

Trustees voted 6-2 in favour of the name. Trustees Linda Qin and Nancy Armstrong voted no.

Burgess knew the name would be controversial.

"I think that effigies are being made and will be burning by tomorrow," she said.

While there are no reports of anyone burning Burgess or other trustees in effigy, the decision prompted a walkout at Kingsville District High School on Friday.

"Two names were brought forward, and one of those was supposed to be used, or the process was supposed to restart," said student walkout organizer Emmerson Jadischke. "Instead, they completely disregarded all the voices in our community and chose a different name."

In a letter to public school board trustees, Essex MPP Anthony Leardi wrote, "The Board seems to have chosen a name which means nothing to no one."

He said the board's choice isn't consistent with four of the five naming criteria listed in its school naming policy, which lists historical events, geography, culture, community traditions, and representation of diversity.

"There is nothing wrong with reconsidering this decision, especially since this decision has met with so much public disfavour," wrote Leardi. "Regardless of whatever the final name will be, we want our schools to be supported by the citizens of the community. The board should simply re-consider the choice and follow the process again."

Meanwhile, 1,885 people signed a petition calling for a reconsideration.

"Kingsville is our home, and we take pride in living here," petition organizer Angelica Ward wrote. "It has been brought to my attention that this decision has been made in the interest of 'inclusivity.' If it was presented as a democracy, then why does this decision exclude public input?"

Ward launched the petition on February 21.

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