The Toronto District School Board has appointed a temporary principal at York Memorial Collegiate Institute after several members of the school's administration, including the current principal, did not show up for work amid apparent safety issues.

"This school needs stable leadership. Every school needs stable leadership. The lifeblood of the school is the principal," TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said.

"And this school has not had stable leadership for whatever reason."

Schwartz-Maltz said she could not disclose why the current principal and other staff were absent. She added that on Wednesday, there were 13 "unfilled" jobs at the school, located near Keele Street and Rogers Road.

Students affected by the absences, she noted, were sent to the library under supervision or joined other classes.

Schwartz-Maltz said a group of TDSB officials, including members of the Occupational Health and Safety and Caring & Safe Schools, have been at York Memorial CI in the past few days to deal with "challenges at this school related to a bunch of issues."

"There has been a commitment from everybody from the board to put into place stable leadership," she said, noting that the board has hired a retired principal to temporarily assume the position.

On Tuesday, CTV Toronto obtained a letter from the acting principal informing parents and guardians that 13 staff members had initiated a work refusal process.

"In this particular situation, there were concerns about school safety," Acting Principal Ellen Austrom wrote.

"The school is doing its best to arrange for coverage of classes by other staff members and administrators."

Austrom noted that all students remain safe. She added that the board is working with the Ministry of Labour to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Several students at the school told CTV News that there was a fight at the school on Friday, and it was one of several incidents that had occurred since the school year started.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, TDSB officials confirmed that there was an incident in the hallway last week and that it is under investigation.

"Our Toronto police partners are currently involved with that investigation. Whether or not that is the reason for or the feelings of the staff is undetermined at this time," TDSB school superintendent Kwame Lennon said.

While the work refusal process began on Tuesday, a number of staff were already absent the day before.

When asked about a private security guard being posted at the school, Lennon said it is a temporary measure.

"We listened to the immediate concerns of our staff. On Monday, we initiated an emergency staff meeting. And as a result of that emergency staff meeting, this is one of the responses that we immediately put into place to respond to the concerns raised by staff," Lennon said.

"We're looking at putting in place more permanent solutions, such as a school-based safety monitor, in addition to the school-based safety margin that monitors that we already have in place."

This school year marked the merger of students from York Memorial CI and George Harvey Collegiate Institute.

York Memorial CI students were previously at the former Scarlett Heights Entrepreneurial Academy in the wake of a six-alarm fire that destroyed their Eglinton Avenue West and Keele Street school in 2019.

Last year, the TDSB decided to move York Memorial CI students to George Harvey this school year while they wait for the reconstruction of the building. As a result of the merger, George Harvey students had to adopt the York Memorial CI name.

"It's never easy to bring to school communities who feel very strongly about their own school community together. And we knew it was going to be challenging, and it remains challenging," Schwartz-Maltz said.

"It's a challenge that we are going to take because we think ultimately it's going to be amazing when the kids two years to three years (from now) -- as soon as a construction is complete -- are in a new school, but there are always growing pains."

She said the board hopes to build a school administration "that's going to stay and work on the culture change."

- With files from CTV Toronto's Allison Hurst