Toronto school principal under investigation for compiling list of black students

June 26, 2018
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

The Toronto District School Board is investigating complaints that the principal at one of its high schools engaged in racial profiling by compiling a list of black students and sharing it with teachers to examine opportunity and achievement gaps.

In an e-mail to the school community earlier this month, Peggy Aitchison, the principal of the Etobicoke School of the Arts, admitted to sharing the list and apologized, stating that it was an "inappropriate approach to identifying gaps in supports."

But her actions have angered some parents and students, and the school's superintendent said in an e-mail to ESA's graduating class that Ms. Aitchison has decided not preside over the graduation ceremony Thursday evening "in order to keep the focus of the event on students and celebrate their significant accomplishments." The school vice-principals will take her place.

In her e-mail to parents, Ms. Aitchison said she shared a list of black students with the teaching staff at a November meeting. She said that the objective was to support student success, particularly those who may face inequitable access to opportunity.

"Upon reflection and discussion with others, I recognized that this was a limited, flawed, and ultimately inappropriate approach to identifying gaps in supports and so, that very same day, I retracted that compilation that was based solely on perceptions," she wrote.

The TDSB said a human-rights investigation is under way. Ms. Aitchison did not respond to messages requesting comment.

John Malloy, the board's director of education, said in a statement that a "mistake" was made by the principal that "hurt" students and their families, and "the principal and the TDSB apologizes for this."

"In the TDSB, we are working with every school community to confront racism and all forms of discrimination. This is important and challenging work," Mr. Malloy said. "While [the incident at ESA] should never have happened, we will continue this significant work of challenging our bias, removing barriers and creating equitable and inclusive schools for all."

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