Toronto District School Board
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Addressing School Safety

The safety and well-being of all students is of the utmost importance to the TDSB. All students and staff have a right to feel safe at school and work. The TDSB is committed to working together with students, staff and families to ensure all students have what they need to be successful in school and to keep our schools safe, with the presence of additional caring adults (child and youth counsellors, school-based safety monitors), and by strengthening connections, maintaining positive relationships, solving problems and promoting respect.

The TDSB has a strong foundation for school safety that we have progressively built on for years. We have among the most evidence-based policies and procedures in Canada to support student safety and well-being. We have made ongoing and significant investments to resources, staffing and programs and opportunities to connect with and engage students.

On December 5, 2022, A Collaborative Approach to School and Community Safety: Report 1, was presented to the TDSB Planning and Priorities Committee. This report provides an overview of current research trends and data related to Caring and Safe Schools in the TDSB and beyond. It also presents Phase One of an action plan to urgently address issues of school and community violence.

TDSB staff along with other education workers are an essential part of preventing and responding to the issues and risks experienced by students. These staff care deeply, and in many cases understand the lived experiences of their students, believe in their abilities, and see their humanity — even when those students make mistakes. However, student actions that pose a clear risk to the safety of peers and school communities are not tolerated. Students can be and are suspended or expelled from school for violations under the Education Act when serious safety issues are identified.

Schools are part of the larger community within which they exist, and safer communities contribute to safe schools. Creating safer schools goes beyond the work of a single school or school board. It is the collective responsibility of all levels of government, communities and all school boards.

We know we have more work to do to meaningfully engage with students, staff, families and communities to achieve safer, more caring, inclusive and supportive learning environments. The TDSB will continue to advance on this important work for our students, staff and schools across the Board.

Strengthening School Community Safety & Well-being Symposium

On August 30, 2023, multiple partners gathered at the Strengthening School Community Safety & Well-being Symposium. This symposium was led by the SafeTO Multi-sector Violence Reduction Steering Committee and an action item from the Improving School and Community Safety conversation in May 2023 that had over 355 School Administrators, City staff and Toronto Police Officers participate. Principals requested that partners to come together in person to strengthen local relationships with multi-sector partners and proactively plan to support children, youth, families, schools and communities for the 2023-2024 school year. More than 600 multi-sector partners including 450 school administrators from TDSB and TCDSB gathered to:

  • Learn about school-aged children and youth health and well-being which covered the impact of COVID, adverse childhood experiences and exposure to violence
  • Gain an overview of community violence trends
  • Build relationships and plan for the 2023-2024 school year
  • Increase capacity building in the areas of child abuse, internet safety and engagement, community healing and partnering with the TCHC Violence Reduction Unit.

The symposium was a success and an evaluation from participants is currently under way.

At the Toronto District School Board, we are taking additional steps to address school safety including:

  • Creating an Expert Reference Panel consisting of multi-sector partners to support school safety and student well-being within our communities.
  • Allocating additional resources (such as School-Based Safety Monitors, social workers, children and youth counsellors/workers) to schools where concerns have been raised.
  • In the event that student action results in a risk to safety or a violation under the Education Act, students can be and are suspended or expelled.
  • Emergency Preparedness training sessions have been made mandatory for school-based staff and will continue to be offered in the months ahead.
  • Toronto Police coordinated Training on Threat Assessments continues for all Principals and Vice Principals.
  • Ongoing staff training in Restorative Practices including conflict resolution and conflict prevention.
  • Creating a Safe Schools Audit Team to work with schools to ensure Caring and Safe Schools policies, practices and procedures are being followed appropriately and working with school teams to provide feedback and address concerns.
  • Currently piloting new security video technology with an aim to expand across the system.
  • Ensuring every secondary school has a student engagement/safety team so that students are informing local school-based safety initiatives.
  • Expanding a new initiative that works with community groups during and outside of regular school hours to offer a variety of programs focused on supporting youth.
  • Working with Toronto Police to update the existing Police-School Board Protocol.
  • Continuing to be an active participant in the City of Toronto’s SafeTO community safety plan.
  • At the TDSB, we are also working to anticipate the recommendations that will arise from a review of recent violent incidents in and around Toronto-area schools, and which will be finalized in the near future.

In addition to the caring adults that are present in all 583 TDSB schools, the board has many specially trained staff that help support safe schools and student well-being including:

  • School-Based Safety Monitors in every Middle and Secondary school
  • Child and Youth Counsellors
  • Child and Youth Workers
  • Caring and Safe Schools Centrally Assigned Principals that oversee and support schools in school safety and disciplinary issues in each of the TDSB’s 4 Learning Centres
  • Caring and Safe Schools Advisors that support schools in school safety and disciplinary issues in each of the TDSB’s 4 Learning Centres
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Court Liaison Workers

TDSB continues to work closely with established community agencies to deliver programming that supports students in ways that are community driven and informed. We are also focussed on continuing to expand partnerships with culturally responsive community organizations and faith-based groups in support of school and community safety.

All TDSB schools have a Safe Entry Plan for the building that take into consideration the following:

  • Times that the secure front door access system will be active (elementary)
  • Doors that will be unlocked for access to the school when the secure front door access system is not in use (elementary)
  • Times that doors will be locked and unlocked (secondary)
  • Childcare/Tenant access to the school
  • After hour access (e.g. Continuing Education classes, permit usage, etc.)

Secure access systems (elementary) better prevent unauthorised individuals from gaining access to the school. Each elementary school has either a video intercom or an audio intercom (depending on line of sight to the main office) that is used during the learning day.

Students can be and are suspended/expelled from school when they engage in behaviour/activity which warrants this level of discipline. Under the Education Act, students MUST be suspended (and considered for expulsion) for:

  • Possessing a weapon, including possessing a firearm
  • Using a weapon to cause or to threaten bodily harm to another person
  • Committing physical assault on another person that causes bodily harm requiring treatment by a medical practitioner
  • Committing sexual assault
  • Trafficking in weapons or in illegal drugs
  • Committing robbery
  • Giving alcohol or cannabis to a minor
  • Bullying (if the student has previously been suspended for engaging in bullying, and the student’s continuing presence in the school creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of another person).

In addition, TDSB also requires suspension (and possible expulsion) for the following:

  • Possession of an explosive substance
  • Sexual harassment
  • Racial harassment
  • Hate Motivated Occurrences
  • Distribution of hate material
  • An act considered by the principal to be a serious breach ofF the Board’s or school’s code of conduct
  • Trafficking in cannabis
  • Extortion

Students may also be suspended for other reasons outlined in the Education Act. However, this is at the discretion of Principals. For more information about suspensions and expulsions in the TDSB, view Caring and Safe Schools Annual Reports.

  • TDSB Student Safety Line
  • Emergency: Call 9-1-1
  • Kids Help Phone: Call 1-800-668-6868 for counselling support
  • Toronto Crime Stoppers: Call 416-222-TIPS to report a crime