Unanimous vote in favour of report that leaves cops out of TDSB schools
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, November 15, 2017 10:36PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 15, 2017 10:51PM EST
A Toronto District School Board meeting held to discuss the fate of a program that implements police officers in schools ended in a unanimous vote in favour of a staff report that found the arrangement left some students feeling threatened and uncomfortable.
Members of the public and the school board gathered at the meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the staff report, which followed a six-week period where students, staff and parents at schools affected by this program were surveyed. Student focus groups and community meetings were held during this time period as well to assess the School Resource Officer program.
The report recommended for the program to come to an end but noted that the school board and police should continue to work together to ensure safety in learning environments.
Speaking outside of the meeting, school board trustee Chris Glover told CP24 he plans to vote in favour of the report.
“What the report is saying to us is that this way of doing it is not working so we need to find another way to do it,” Glover said.
“I know a lot of the SROs and a lot of them have gone out of their way to really build a relationship with the young people in the schools. They’ve helped young people find jobs, they’ve coached sports teams in school so a lot of them have really gone out of their way to build that relationship and that was the goal of this program.”
Glover said he was “surprised about the extent of discomfort” from students in regards to the program.
“More than 2,000 students said that they felt threatened or watched by having an officer in school,” he said.
A member of the parent council at Western Technical-Commercial School told CP24 at the meeting he believes cutting the program completely would be “a bit short-sighted.”
“I think there’s an oppourtunity for some of the schools that are willing to participate as the report says to have a continuing discussion as there is a chance to pilot and make a true program that has a partnership with the Toronto police services.
Speaking after the vote was held at the public meeting, Rodney Diverlus of Black Lives Matter told CP24 the unanimous outcome was “rewarding and exciting.”
“People that have been coming out – parents, students, community members – talking about the dangerous effects of the SRO program and now we’re feeling as though the TDSB trustees are finally listening,” Diverlus said.
“I think the reality is that we know that in our societies and in our communities there are some people who feel comfortable with the presence of police but what this report highlights and what this conversation is about is actually capturing the stories of people who don’t feel included.”
After the report was released on Monday, a spokesperson for Toronto police, Meaghan Gray told The Canadian Press they continue to believe in the value of the program.
“Officers in schools, in uniform, create a safer learning environment and foster relationships between the police and young people,” she said. “Partnerships like the ones we develop with schools are at the core of the service’s modernization efforts to move toward a neighbourhood-centric model of policing.”
The SRO program had police officers stationed at 45 TDSB high schools prior to it being suspended in August.
The program was implemented one year after 15-year-old Jordan Manners was fatally shot at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute in 2007.
The matter will go to a vote by the full school board on Nov. 22 and an interim report on key finding is expected to be completed by researcher at Ryerson University in January 2018.