Re­port rec­om­mends end­ing pro­gram that puts cops in some Toronto schools

Medicine Hat News - - NATION -

TORONTO A re­port by staff at Canada’s largest school board rec­om­mends elim­i­nat­ing a con­tro­ver­sial pro­gram that placed po­lice of­fi­cers in cer­tain Toronto schools af­ter find­ing the scheme left some stu­dents feel­ing in­tim­i­dated or un­com­fort­able.

The re­port from staff at the Toronto District School Board fol­lows a six-week pe­riod dur­ing which stu­dents, staff and par­ents at the af­fected schools were sur­veyed and stu­dent fo­cus groups and com­mu­nity meet­ings were held to as­sess the School Re­source Of­fi­cer pro­gram.

The re­port, which is sub­ject to ap­proval by board trus­tees, said the pro­gram should be dis­con­tin­ued, but the board should con­tinue to work with po­lice to en­sure a safe school en­vi­ron­ment.

“In the face of this data, we have a clear duty to act on be­half of our stu­dents, and ad­dress the con­cerns they have brought to our at­ten­tion,” it said.

The SRO pro­gram, which was sus­pended at the end of Au­gust, saw po­lice of­fi­cers de­ployed at 45 TDSB high schools in an ef­fort to im­prove safety and per­cep­tions of po­lice.

It was im­ple­mented in 2008 af­ter 15year-old Jor­dan Manners was shot and killed at C. W. Jef­ferys Col­le­giate In­sti­tute the pre­vi­ous year.

Crit­ics of the pro­gram ar­gued that armed of­fi­cers in schools in­tim­i­date stu­dents. They also raised con­cerns about racial and anti-im­mi­grant bias.

Rod­ney Diver­lus of Black Lives Mat­ter Toronto said the group is “cau­tiously op­ti­mistic” that school board trus­tees will ac­cept the re­port, call­ing the SRO pro­gram a “re­ac­tionary mea­sure” to a sin­gle in­ci­dent.

“This re­port has re­ally cor­rob­o­rated many of the claims that par­ents, that youth and stu­dents in our com­mu­nity have been say­ing since the in­tro­duc­tion of the SROs,” Diver­lus said.

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