Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Report Recommends Ending Program That Puts Cops in Some Toronto Schools

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Report Recommends Ending Program That Puts Cops in Some Toronto Schools

Article excerpt

End program putting cops in Toronto schools: report

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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 15-year-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.

He said the group -- which seeks to dismantle anti-black racism and support black healing -- doesn't believe police belong in schools and make students feel intimidated.

Black Lives Matter believes social workers, child behaviour therapists, hall monitors and more time for faculty to engage with students would be more effective for students, Diverlus said.

The TDSB staff report said the review of the program found the majority of those surveyed had a generally positive impression. …

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