Toronto District School Board has voted to remove police officers from inside their classrooms.
The School Resource Officer program had been put in place in response to a shooting 10 years ago at C.W. Jefferys that left one boy, Jordan Manners, dead. Last August, the program was suspended followed by recommendations of TDSB staff who called it “intimidating” to students and left the potential to marginalize students of visible minorities.
The decision was in no way unanimous, but the combination of concerns voiced by the community and feedback from over 15,500 students brought the council to a decision.
“Ten years ago our board made a mistake by not consulting the public, and not listening to the voices in the community,” Trustee Tiffany Ford told members of the meeting. “Our schools are meant to reinforce the power of education and not the power of stigmatization.”
According to Metro News, the decision was met by applause and jubilation by parents, teachers and members of the community.
Mayor John Tory weighed in on the argument, expressing that he wished the decision could have been made after Ryerson’s year-long review for the Toronto police ended. “It is unfortunate that process was not allowed to be completed so that everyone’s views could be heard and objectively considered,” he said.
The program was also under immense public pressure as advocates for Black Lives Matter Toronto, Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN), and Education Not Incarceration had banded together to express their distaste for the program.
John Malloy, director of the TDSB, said the decision was made “In the spirit of trying to ensure safety for all students, and recognizing that some students do not feel OK about this program.” Ultimately it was the voices of the students that led the change.