Toronto District School Board
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|Toronto District School Board|
|5050 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario, M2N 5N8|
|Established||January 1, 1998|
(through merger of 7 boards)
2 (Alternative and Adult programs)
|Schools||451 elementary schools|
105 secondary schools
5 adult education schools
|Budget||~CA$3 billion (2017-2018)|
|Chair of the Board||Robin Pilkey|
|Director of Education||John Malloy|
|Student trustees||Rakeeb Hossain, Shams Mehdi|
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB; known as English-language Public District School Board No. 12 prior to 1999) is the English-language public-secular school board for Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The minority public-secular francophone (Conseil scolaire Viamonde), public-separate anglophone (Toronto Catholic District School Board), and public-separate francophone (Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud) communities of Toronto also have their own publicly funded school boards and schools that operate in the same area, but which are independent of the TDSB. Its headquarters are in the district of North York. The TDSB is Canada's largest school board and the fourth largest school board in North America.
- 1 History
- 2 Organization
- 3 Community involvement
- 4 Controversies
- 4.1 Financial issues
- 4.2 Contract with Trade Council
- 4.3 Immigration Act charges
- 4.4 Ethnic origins and disability-related issues
- 4.5 "Explicit" sex-ed brochures
- 4.6 School violence
- 4.7 School mosque
- 4.8 Culture of fear
- 4.9 Removing the word "chief" from job titles
- 4.10 Exposing students to cameras
- 5 School building architecture
- 6 Schools
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The TDSB was created in 1998 following the merger of the Board of Education for the City of York, the East York Board of Education, the North York Board of Education, the Scarborough Board of Education, the Etobicoke Board of Education and the Toronto Board of Education.
The Metropolitan Toronto School Board, a "super-ordinate umbrella board" created in 1953 to coordinate activities and to apportion tax revenues equitably across the school boards within Metro Toronto, was dissolved at this time, with its functions merged into the new board. The Metropolitan Toronto School Board's head office was located at the former York Mills Public School site on Campbell Crescent (built 1956 and demolished 2004).
TDSB headquarters was located at 155 College Street, the former offices of the Toronto Board of Education. TDSB head office moved from 155 College Street to 5050 Yonge Street, which was previously occupied by the North York Board of Education.
The school board's organizational mission is "to enable all students to reach high levels of achievement and to acquire the knowledge, skills, and values they need to become responsible members of a democratic society."
The TDSB is the largest school board in Canada and the 4th largest in North America. The record was previously held by the Metropolitan Separate School Board with over 100,000 students until 1998 what is now the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
There are more than 250,000 students  in nearly 600 schools within the TDSB. Of these schools, 451 offer elementary education, 102 offer secondary level education, and there are five adult day schools. The TDSB has 16 alternative elementary schools as well as 20 alternative secondary schools. TDSB has approximately 31,000 permanent and 8,000 temporary staff, which includes 10,000 elementary school teachers and 5,800 at the secondary level.
Parent and Community involvement occurs at all levels of the school board system, from parental involvement at local schools, the involvement of local organizations at the school level and formal advisory committees at the Board level.
There has also been an effort to include more student involvement in the Toronto District School Board. The "Super Council" is an organization which acts as a student council for the entire board. There has also been an attempt to place student input in the TDSB's Equity Department through the second, and last, board-wide student group: Students Working Against Great Injustice. Both groups have put together various events and have had much success in giving input towards the decisions of the Board.
The TDSB actively recruits students from outside of Canada, and attracts students from Kindergarten to Grade 12th, charging international students up to $14,000 per year to study in Toronto.
Director of Education
The current Director of Education is Dr. John Malloy, who is serving on an interim basis during an 18-month period since January 4, 2016, replacing Donna Quan. Malloy is also currently serving as an Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Student Achievement Officer with the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Before returning to Toronto, Malloy served as director for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and before that, as a Superintendent of Education with the York Region District School Board and the Durham Catholic District School Board (formerly the Durham Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board) as well as teacher and school administrator for the Metropolitan Separate School Board (most notably Cardinal Carter and Cardinal Newman).
- Donna Quan (2013–2015) – was acting in 2013, left to work for York University (as adjunct professor) and Ministry of Education
- Chris Spence (2009–2013) – resigned due to a plagiarism scandal and teaching license revoked (2016)
- Gerry Connelly (2005–2009) - retired from TDSB and now special advisor on Education Policy for The Learning Partnership and adjunct professor at York University
- David Reid (2001–2005) – now with Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
- Marguerite Jackson (1998–2001) – now CEO of the Education Quality and Accountability Office
The TDSB's Parent and Community Involvement Policy describes ways in which "parents, the community, students, staff and the Board" are working together. One option is the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee.
Parents can design and propose a new school in the TDSB. There is a 2-year process for review, approval and opening the school.
This section may lend undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. (September 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
In 2002, the Government of Ontario stripped all power and authority from the school board trustees because they failed to balance the board's budget. Paul Christie was appointed by the province to serve as supervisor of the Toronto District School Board, with authority for all financial and administrative functions of the Board. This allowed Christie to supersede the authority of elected school trustees. The provincial government argued that the appointment was necessary, as the TDSB had not submitted a budget to the Ontario Minister of Education as legally required. Representatives of the TDSB claimed that they could not find the necessary operating expenses for the year, given provincial regulations which prohibited deficit spending. Christie balanced the TDSB's budget through a dramatic spending reduction of $90 million. Under his watch, the TDSB eliminated many secretarial positions, phased out school-community advisors, child and youth counsellors, and attendance counsellors and reduced the number of vice-principals, cut outdoor education and adult education, and re-evaluated the position of social workers in the system. Christie's staff reports were not made public, and some critics argued that there were no adequate checks or balances on his authority.
Blackstone Partners carried out a review in 2006. They submitted a 113-page report in January 2007. Blackstone Partners were "asked to determine if the facilities division had "effective governance."" The report showed "high costs of repairs, lots of workers and spotty results, and managerial “silos” that made it hard for principals to figure out whom to approach to get a job done." Blackstone Partners gave 43 recommendations in the report. The school board claims a few have been carried out and others are in the works. When surveyed about a wide range of topics, the worst result was the school board’s maintenance and construction division. Eighty percent of principals didn't believe the maintenance and construction division delivered good value for the money TDSB director Chris Spence "To use a football analogy, we are trying to move the yardstick. There is no quick fix." The Toronto Star reported that in recent investigation showed little has changed since that review. A high school principal "raised questions about the $143 cost of installing a pencil sharpener and the $19,000 cost of installing a sign on the school's front lawn."
|To attach a pencil sharpener with four screws||$143|||
|sign on a school's front lawn||$19,000|||
|Electrical outlet on the wall in a school library||$3,000|||
|"Breakfast club" kitchen||$250,000|||
|Basketball bolt installation||$1,492.13|||
|Repairing drinking fountains||$2,703|||
|Replacing a Green Bin||$664|||
|Hanging a picture in the office||$700|||
|Toilet seats||$27 (to purchase)
$500 (to install)
In 2007, again due to alleged mismanagement by the trustees, the board will try to submit a budget with a deficit of $84 million.
The school board wants $3.6 million from the Toronto Star before it releases a database. The database shows "work orders showing what taxpayers have been charged for maintenance and construction projects at local schools." In June 2012, the Toronto Star asked for "an electronic copy showing three years of work at the TDSB." The Toronto Star stated that "the request was made under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act."
The Ontario Ministry of Education Froze funding for the school board's buildings project. The ministry cited the possibility of a $10 million to $11 million cost overrun for the retrofit of Nelson Mandela Park Public School. The project was originally priced at $21.7 million. Some of the school board's trustees are "outraged". Laurel Broten, Ontario's Minister of Education, stated, "We are not happy they don’t know why" when talking about the overrun. She also stated that a supervisor may be sent in.
The Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council gets 0.5% on all outside contracts even though it does not perform the work. Several contractors have stated that "contractors sometimes inflate their price for school board work to pay Hazel’s group." Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council are unable to do all the maintenance and construction work. TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said "the dues are considered a "temporary union membership." The TDSB does not charge the trades council rent for its offices on school board property. The school board's trustees want to stop paying the fee.
Employees of the school board visited bars, bought groceries and filled the gas tanks of their cars using "public money" and while on the job.
Contract with Trade Council
A top official from the Toronto District School Board stated that he has concerns about a "controversial contract" between the Trades Council and the Ontario Government and claims that the contract with the trades council is "politically motivated." Chris Bolton, the Chairman of the school board, stated that the Trade Council is a "major contributors to the Liberals" and even campaigned for the Liberals. A government spokesperson stated that Education Minister Laurel Broten decision to retain the Trade Council's services "nothing to do with politics."
Terms of the contract includes:
- "The TDSB will not be allowed to hire outside workers for some jobs." The school board won't be allowed to hire outside workers even if it would cost taxpayers less.
- "The trades council is still allowed to choose all new workers for the publicly funded school board." The Toronto District School Board, who pays the workers, doesn't have a say on who is hired.
- A structured shift system will be preserved where the morning and afternoon shifts overlaps. This requires the school board to maintain extra trucks and vehicles. The school board has estimated "it could have sold off up to 300 trucks and other vehicles that would not be needed if the afternoon shift started when the morning shift ended."
Immigration Act charges
In 2001, Toronto School Board Trustee Sam Basra was convicted of Immigration Act charges and was forced under the Education Act to resign his seat. He pleaded guilty in August 2001 to selling fake offers of employment to potential immigrants for US$1,500.00 each. This came to light after being tipped by a former employee, police raided Basra's paralegal firm and found 250 false letters of employment. In March 2001 Arjan Singh launched a $15 million lawsuit against Basra alleging that while doing paralegal work, Basra forged documents to make him think his rights case was active more than a year after it was closed. After much infighting among the trustees and inaction from then Chair of the Board Donna Cansfield to make an appointment to fill the vacant trustee seat left by Basra, a by-election was called for April 2002 costing the board $160,000.00. Stan Nemiroff defeated former Mayor of Etobicoke Bruce Sinclair in the by-election to become the new Ward 1 trustee representing Etobicoke North.
In December 2001, a $70 million class-action lawsuit was filed against the Toronto District School Board on behalf of the parents of special needs students who were sent home during the boards support workers strike in April 2001. The suit claimed that 27,000 special needs students were discriminated against on the basis of their disabilities because they were sent home during the month-long strike while the schools stayed open for their able-bodied counterparts. The claims were based on the fact that they were not permitted to go to school and missed a month of school while everyone else was able to go. The suit also claimed that the Toronto District School Board should stop treating special needs students as lesser students. The four-week strike, led by 13,000 support workers, ended in early May 2001.
On November 14, 2005, the Ontario Human Rights Commission reached a settlement with the Toronto District School Board following a Commission-initiated complaint against the Board in July 2005. On July 7, 2005, the commission initiated a complaint against the Board in the public interest and on behalf of racialized students and students with disabilities alleging that the application of the Safe Schools Act and the Board's policies on discipline are having a disproportionate impact on racial minority students and students with disabilities. The complaint alleges that the Board had failed to meet its duty to accommodate racialized students and students with disabilities in the application of discipline, including providing adequate alternative education services for racial minority students and students with disabilities who are suspended or expelled and that the above amounts to a failure on the part of the Board to provide equal access to education services and that it constitutes discrimination and contravenes sections 1, 11 and 9 of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The TDSB accepts and acknowledges a widespread perception that the application of Ontario's school disciplinary legislation, regulations and policies can have a discriminatory effect on students from racialized communities and students with disabilities and further exacerbate their already disadvantaged position in society.
In 2005, controversy erupted when the TDSB's Board Chair Sheila Ward and Executive Officer of Student and Community Equity, Lloyd McKell, spoke in favour of "Black-focused schools." The proposal brought about a media backlash, as many interpreted this as a "Black-only" school. After long and sometimes raucous debate, the proposal for an Afrocentric school was adopted, and registration began. Similar controversy had taken place in the North York Board of Education in the 1980s, when the board attempted to turn Georges Vanier Secondary School into a black-only school.
"Explicit" sex-ed brochures
Wade Vroom, an "occasional teacher" at Delta alternative school, "pinned up brochures meant to advise gay bar and bath house patrons on safe sex procedures" in a grade seven and eight classroom. Liz Sandals, the minister for education, stated that it was "totally inappropriate." Sandals also stated, "clearly, from what was described in the media, the materials that were being used are totally inappropriate and are in no way connected to the Ontario health and phys ed curriculum" and "I’m relieved that Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has gotten rid of the material and that the teacher is no longer in the classroom." He had been "ordered to work from home pending an investigation." Sandals called it a "one off." Sandals stated how this type of material would not be included in the new Ontario curriculum. Lisa MacLeod, the critic for education from the Progressive Conservative Party, stated "parents have not asked for this type of sexually explicit information to be made available to their children. The fact that an Ontario teacher felt comfortable enough to post it speaks to the cozy relationship the Liberal government has with their unions." MacLeod feels that the Toronto District School Board is "clearly out of control when it comes to this." She also stated that "this is not the first time something like has occurred there - and I think the government really has to put their foot down and make it known that that type of material is unacceptable." A spokesman for the school board claimed that the teacher had "good intentions." MacLeod criticized the spokesman and thinks that the school board should fire someone for the material being posted. The AIDS Committee of Toronto, who published one of the brochures, stated that the intended material published by them was for adults. The Toronto Sun asked in an article, "if the teacher now being paid to be at home, or any adult, were to pass out this material in a park, would the police not be called?" and when is the TDSB going to notify police about a brochure teaching children?"safer sucking tips?" A spokesman for the board stated, "At this time, police have not been notified." Toronto Police Service investigated the brochures and decided that no charges would be pressed against Vroom because it "didn't meet Criminal Code criteria to lay charges for exposing children to obscene material or corrupting the morals of children." Vroom was later reinstated after the issue had been "resolved."
A number of violent encounters and tragedies have sparked growing concern, raising doubts on the ability of the TDSB to provide a safe educational environment. Stakeholders believe that the TDSB is failing on their promise of a harmonious learning environment for Toronto's youth. The Toronto District School Board location is known for having a high rate of violence among youths. The year 2013 saw the highest number of youths killed by guns in the district of Toronto including 7 teens who were 16 years old at the time of the incidents. Media statistics have estimated that Toronto's shooting victims, all males in 2013, have gotten younger. Their average age is estimated to be around 22 years old, down from 26 years old in 2012.
The first incident of violence directly affecting a TDSB high school occurred in 2007, when Jordan Manners, a 15-year-old student, was shot and killed in the hallway of C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute. It has been 10 years since the incident and the situation has not improved. After the highly publicized death of Manners, the safety and security of TDSB schools was scrutinized and questioned. Prior to the Jordan Manners’ shooting, 81% of CW Jefferys reported feeling safe at schools after the shooting this dropped 37 percentage points to 44%. A panel was set up after the Jordan Manners shooting to address the issue of school safety. However, The TDSB has been accused of, "failing to take immediate steps, there are areas where they have chosen not to follow the panel's recommendations.".
A similar incident also took place on September 16, 2008, when a 16-year-old boy was shot in the chest in the parking lot of Bendale Business and Technical Institute following an altercation involving several people. The victim was subsequently hospitalized in critical condition. The next day, Toronto Police announced it had made two arrests in the case; 18-year-old Mark Deicsics, was charged with armed robbery. The incident prompted authorities to lock down not only Bendale, but three other nearby schools (David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute) for almost three hours.
In September 2009, a Grade 11 student was stabbed during lunch hour at Bloor Collegiate Institute. Katherine Evans, the principal of the school, stated that this was the first stabbing at the school that she's aware of. For about two hours, the school was in "secure mode" where nobody was allowed in or out of the building. However, the school wasn't in lockdown as students were allowed to move around the school.
On September 23, 2014, another outbreak of violence occurred when Hammid Aminzada, a 19-year-old North Albion Collegiate Institute student, was fatally stabbed on school grounds after attempting to break up a fight between two students. The TDSB director of education Donna Quan announced that the board would "soon begin an independent review into the facts surrounding the events leading to and following the death of Hamid and to determine if more can be done to prevent such deaths and to improve support and engagement of students and families". As a response, the TDSB sent out a press release on October 20, 2014, it listed and reviewed the facts surrounding the events leading up to and after the reported incident. In it they stated they would appoint a steering team to examine the circumstances pertaining to the occurrence and assess both the system and crisis response procedures.
Past violence-prevention initiatives
In the late 1990s The Tory Government implemented a deliberate strategy to eliminate violence and illegal behavior on school grounds. This effort has been referred to as “Safe Schools Culture” which had a destructive effect on disenfranchised youth, especially African-Canadian. This approach lead to mass suspensions and other forms of conventional discipline that did not take into account the complex needs of the youth. The zero tolerance philosophy lead to abundant suspensions and expulsions under a “one size fits all” mentality. The culture tended toward pushing youths out of schools without essential support systems.
Current violence-prevention initiatives
Today, steps against the violence in schools have led to the implementation of the School's Community Safety Advisory Panel following any major incident of violence on school grounds. The panel is responsible for conducting an independent review into the facts surrounding the events leading to and following the particular incident. "The reviews will assist us in understanding the circumstances around this tragic incident to ensure that we continue moving the gains we’ve made in creating safe and caring school environments out to our school communities". Additionally, every second year the Toronto District School Board conducts a School Climate Survey within their schools to gain direct results and understanding from students, school staff and parents about the overall school climate. These surveys are used to make informed planning decisions about programs to help prevent bullying and promote a safe and inclusive school environment.
In 2011, it was revealed that a TDSB school, Valley Park Middle School, had been holding Muslim prayer services for students in its cafeteria during school hours. The prayer services lasted 30 to 40 minutes, and were led by an imam from a nearby mosque.
School administration were required to prepare the mosque, and non-Muslim students attended classes during the prayer sessions and were not allowed in the cafeteria. During the prayers, boys and girls were separated by benches, with girls placed behind the boys. Menstruating girls were prohibited from participating, but could observe from the back row. The Huffington Post commented:
This school is allowing children to skip class so that they can pray during school hours in a secular public school system, all the while instilling the misconceived notion that menstruating girls are somehow unclean and should be pushed to the back of the figurative bus, which in this case is represented by the cafeteria turned makeshift mosque.
Responding to criticism, local school board trustee Gerri Gershon said "This is so sad... this is part of our religious accommodation policy".
Culture of fear
In 2014, the Province of Ontario appointed Margaret Wilson to lead an independent review of operational issues at the TDSB. Wilson conducted over sixty interviews, and reviewed documents, letters, and hundreds of emails. Her conclusion was that a "climate of fear" existed within the TDSB. Wilson wrote:
I saw little recognition among experienced trustees that they might be responsible for at least some of the 'climate of fear'...nor did I see any recognition among very senior staff that they too had a part in creating that climate.
Wilson stated that many employees believed their phones and computers were being monitored.
Wilson submitted ten recommendations to Liz Sandals, the Minister of Education. Sandals commented about the report: "The culture of fear, which may have started at the upper levels of the board, is getting dangerously close to the classroom...we have to stop that."
In April 2015—three months after the release of the Wilson Report—it was revealed that the TDSB had placed a covert camera inside a clock located in the office of a TDSB principal. About the incident, Wilson commented "It did strike me as part of the whole climate at the board". Following that revelation, TDSB Director Donna Quan issued a statement assuring "there are currently no hidden cameras in any office of a principal/vice-principal employed by the TDSB."
The TDSB held no public inquiry into the culture of fear, and offered no compensation to those affected. In 2016, the new director John Malloy said:
Everyone who meets me wants to talk about the culture of fear and I understand that, fine, but what I have to be talking about or I won’t be effective in this role, is what we can do to move forward.
Removing the word "chief" from job titles
In 2017, it was reported that the TDSB was ending the use of the word "chief" in job titles out of respect for Indigenous communities. The decision was inspired by the final report of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, though the final report "did not explicitly call for the removal of titles such as chief from non-Indigenous applications". Marcus Gee commented in The Globe and Mail: "The idea was so ridiculous that it had to be in jest... It does nothing for the Indigenous community. It does nothing for the cause of Indigenous rights. In fact, by making something out of nothing, it discredits that cause, tainting it with the scent of wild-eyed zealotry."
Exposing students to cameras
In 2018 questions were raised regarding Schwartz-Maltz's choice to subject two elementary students to international attention after they were allegedly targeted by a violent attacker.
School building architecture
Many of the TDSB stock of school buildings outside of the old City of Toronto were built after World War II and during the 1950s. These are typically Mid-Century modern in style with two to three storey brick facade and large double hung windows are-mo found in older areas of suburbs. Post-modern schools are brick with casement windows appeared from the 1970s onwards.
- Toronto Catholic District School Board, the English-language Catholic school board that also operates in Toronto
- Conseil scolaire Viamonde, the French-language school board that also operates in Toronto
- Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud, the French-language Catholic school board in Toronto
- List of school districts in Ontario
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- Boisvert, Nick (October 11, 2017). "Toronto District School Board to Remove 'Chief' From Job Titles Out of Respect for Indigenous Communities". CBC News.
- Gee, Marcus (October 13, 2017). "What Exactly is the Toronto District School Board's 'Chief' Problem?". The Globe and Mail.
- Syed, Fatima; Moon, Jenna (15 January 2018). "An attacker did not cut her hijab, police say. But why did the TDSB let the tearful 11-year-old face the cameras?". thestar.com.
why, less than four hours after the initial police report, did the Toronto District School Board let the tearful 11-year-old girl — with her mother, grandmother, 10-year-old brother and Shari Schwartz-Maltz, TDSB manager for media relations and issues management, standing close by — face television cameras and throngs of reporters who broadcast and tweeted her extraordinary story to national, and international, attention? Even if the attack had happened, the appearance would have been unusual, as victims of crime under the age of 18 are traditionally not identified by police or the media, let alone put before cameras.
- MacLellan, Duncan (Ryerson University Department of Politics and Public Administration). "The Fewer Schools Boards Act and the Toronto District School Board: Educational Restructuring 1997- 2003." (working paper) (Archive) - Presented to the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, June 1, 2007.
- Rushowy, Kristin. "TDSB’s Chris Spence resigns amid growing plagiarism scandal." Toronto Star. Thursday January 10, 2013.
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