School district apologizes, partly lifts mother's ban after dispute over black student's durag
Una Momolu is upset after she says her son Emmell was told by school staff his durag was also worn by gangs in the area.
EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Catholic School District has apologized and partly lifted the ban on the mother of a black student after she was barred from Christ the King School over a dispute about her son's durag.
The mother, Una Momolu, addressed a school district meeting Tuesday afternoon.
"I feel a lot better than [I have] for the past three months," she told reporters. "I feel good about what's going on."
The changes come after a Monday meeting between Momolu, the province's education minister and Edmonton Catholic School District officials.
In a written statement, the school district confirmed the meeting and detailed an apology it read to Momolu.
"We always took the statements she made in public seriously, and her perspective was always an opportunity to reflect upon what had occurred," the apology reads.
"We can assure Ms. Momolu that it was never their intention to racially profile her son nor to imply that he was a gang member because he was wearing a durag."
The school district also said Momolu is now allowed to attend after-school events normally open to students' extended families as well as enter the school for pick up or drop off purposes but otherwise remains banned from the property.
The school district also outlined a review of its dress code that began in the fall.
"The Committee has been meeting since the beginning of this school year and will be coming forward with their recommendations in terms of how to address student dress codes."
Momolu says her son is "doing very well" and now attends a different Catholic school. She periodically picks up and drops off a niece at Christ the King.
She says the district's statement to her doesn't go far enough and that she's still seeking an apology "for the way they racially profiled him and the way they misrepresented me."
"That wasn't an apology at all."
In October, Emmell, a Grade 6 student, was asked to remove the headwear because it contravened a policy banning "caps, bandanas or hats," Edmonton Catholic School Division said in a statement.
Emmell's mother was upset with how it was handled and held a meeting with the school's principal.
In a recording provided to CTV News, Momolu is heard saying that the hair garment is a part of black culture and equating it to gang activity is racial profiling.
"We have worn it for centuries," she said. "The history of durag has nothing to do with gangs. Now a police officer who obviously has no sense of diversity whatsoever is targeting an 11-year-old for wearing a durag because he thinks people in Clareview are wearing durags in their gang and they're violent."
Another woman (believed to be the principal) in the recording is heard stating the school policy of no headwear.
Momolu then says she understands the policy, but is concerned that her young son was asked if he was linked to a gang.
According to the school, the meeting escalated and police were called to the building.
Momolu left the property and was banned from school grounds for the remainder of the school year.