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Letter to the Toronto District School Board on its Collaborative Approach to School and Community Safety Report

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December 5, 2022

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Rachel Chernos Lin
Toronto District School Board

Colleen Russell-Rawlins
Director of Education
Toronto District School Board

Dear Chair Chernos Lin and Director Russell-Rawlins:

Re: TDSB Collaborative Approach to School and Community Safety Report

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is aware of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB’s) special meeting to discuss A Collaborative Approach to School and Community Safety. The OHRC is aware the TDSB has taken a decision to end the School Resource Officer (SRO) Program. It recognizes your obligation as a duty-holder to protect the safety of students. However, to the extent that there are bona fide and legitimate reasons to seek external help, the OHRC reminds all parties that the discussion and decision should be informed by human rights principles as set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code).

As a duty-holder, the TDSB must ensure that the Code-protected interests of all students are acknowledged and that values espoused by the Code shape the context of any student engagement. To this end, the report and subsequent recommendations and implementation must be informed by the lived experiences of students, parents and educators who are members of Code-protected groups that have historically experienced systemic barriers in the education system and their dealings with the police.

Based on the research and consultations it has conducted for various initiatives, the OHRC has heard directly from racialized students who have raised concerns about their interactions with officers in school settings. For example, students told the OHRC they were inappropriately stopped, questioned and were subjected to over-scrutiny by police in schools.

The TDSB is reminded of the research that was conducted to date, consultation with local voices, and all options which were submitted to address school and community safety. Human rights principles and equity-seeking strategies must be employed to ensure all students can benefit from a welcoming school environment.


Patricia DeGuire
Chief Commissioner