The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is the largest and one of the most diverse school boards in Canada. It serves approximately 235,000 students in 583 schools throughout Toronto, and more than 100,000 life-long learners in their Adult and Continuing Education programs. TDSB staff members are the backbone of the system and because of that they’re the ones witnessing and dealing with the shocking increase of violence in Toronto’s schools.
Recently the TDSB held a meeting to discuss their report that pointed out that the 2022-23 school year would be the most violent on record and, if trends continue, and what could be done in order to stop that. This document put in numbers a reality that people living in Toronto are getting used to, either watching in the news about different cases of stabbing and murders in school’s areas or inside them, or even worst, having children that are dealing with this violent scenario in their daily lives.
In this edition, when Milénio Stadium brought up this topic to discussion, we reached the TDSB for an interview but as an answer they send us a statement from Ryan Bird, Executive Officer, Government, Public & Community Relations from TDSB that we reproduce below:
“We take any violent incident at one our schools seriously and work to support students and staff in every way possible as we realize that when incidents occur – at a school or in the community – they can have a deep impact on students, staff and families. The TDSB is taking a number of steps to address school safety including:
- Creating a Safe Schools Audit Team to work with schools to ensure Caring and Safe Schools policies, practices and procedures are being followed appropriately and work with school teams to provide feedback and address concerns.
- Ensuring every secondary school has a student engagement/safety team so that students are informing local school-based safety initiatives.
- Forming an Expert Table Reference Group related to school and community safety with representation from recognized service providers across the City and include students, parents, Trustees, staff, and faith-based groups.
- Expanding a new initiative that works with community groups during and after school to offer a variety of programs focused on supporting youth.
- Working with Toronto Police to update the existing Police-School Board Protocol.
- Continuing to be an active participant in the City of Toronto’s SafeTO community safety plan.
- Allocating additional resources to schools where concerns have been raised, further building on an initial investment of $5.9 million made last year to add staff such as School-Based Safety Monitors, social workers, child and youth counsellors/workers.
Creating safer schools goes beyond the work of a single school board. We need the assistance of other levels of government and community partners to address this issue and better support communities. In the end, all students and staff have a right to feel safe at school and work and we continue to take steps to make our schools safer. With regard to police officers in schools – Trustees did not discuss the resumption of the School Resource Officer program during their last meeting, nor were any motions related to police officers in schools brought forward for consideration.”