Toronto’s public school board has a ‘serious racism problem’: report

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has a “serious racism problem,” according to a new report.

With more than 245,000 students and 40,000 staff, Canada’s largest school board is also one of the most culturally diverse.

However, a report by its Human Rights Office says there has been a troubling increase in anti-Black racism.

The report examined reported incidents between 2018 and 2020.

“Race or race-related grounds is the most frequent ground of complaint received by the Human Rights Office making up 54 per cent of all complaints alleging a human rights violation,” the 128-page document reads.

Read more: TDSB investigating after staff receive mail that was ‘racist and sexual in nature’

Disability is cited in 20 per cent of complaints.

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The annual report lists creating “a culture for student and staff well-being” among its strategic directions. Another goal is to provide “equity of access” to learning for all students.

“Black students, Indigenous students, students who self-identify as being disabled do not feel as comfortable as they should,” said Jim Spyropoulos, executive superintendent, human rights and Indigenous education.

“They don’t feel as connected to our system as they should.”

By the end of the 2018-2019 school year, 64 hate activity reports had been filed.

Read more: Investigation underway after anti-Black racist comments made during TDSB Zoom meeting

Between June 2019 and August 31, 2020, 312 hate incident reports had been filed.

The report states that those involving anti-Black racism “exceeded all other incidents” by a wide margin.

“We have had a disturbing trend with respect to the number of Black administrators who are coming forward in the TDSB to discuss their experiences around the fact that anti-Black racism is a big part of what they’ve had to deal with in their professional journeys,” Spyropoulos added.

The report also includes proposals for how to address some of the issues raised, including systemic accountability, the creation of a more effective incident and resolution process and better outreach and engagement.

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