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Statement re: Antisemitism and Hate

Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Categories: Happenings @ TDSB

We have learned of yet another shocking display of antisemitic hate in one of our schools. This highly offensive act brought pain and harm and shows us how much work still needs to be done to educate students and staff on antisemitism.

On behalf of the TDSB, I want to apologize specifically to the teacher, and to all the students, staff and families who are impacted by this horrific situation not only at Valley Park, but throughout our system. We strive for our schools to be safe, welcoming and inclusive, however, as incidents of antisemitism and other forms of racism and hate have risen sharply in our country and city, sadly, there are also incidents connected to our schools. Our data shows that of all reported racism, bias and hate incidents in the TDSB, 91% were committed by students and that is why our focus will remain on student learning. We will continue to be transparent in sharing these incidents with school communities.

This is an urgent situation and we must interrupt and confront racism, discrimination and hate, in all of its forms, when we see or hear it. It is my commitment that we focus on eradicating it at both the systemic and local school levels and that we will move toward more proactively educating about the roots of racism and hate.

Over the past year, we have focused on a number of actions to help address antisemitism and other forms of hate, and among them sharing resources, with the help of a community partner, on antisemitism with all schools as part of a larger resource document to guide conversations on identifying and combatting hate; offering a powerful educational program, Carrying Holocaust Testimony, to students following incidents of antisemitism with plans to proactively share it across the system; and continuing to implement the Reporting and Responding to Racism and Hate Incidents Procedure which includes a portal for reporting racism and hate incidents, including antisemitism, and reporting on its data three times per year.

Education is, of course, a key part of this work to ensure greater understanding of antisemitism and hate, however, the TDSB cannot do it alone. In 2020, Trustees requested that the Ministry of Education make Genocide education mandatory in all Ontario schools. And, in December, Trustees requested guidance, resources, and funding to support professional learning for our staff to identify, address and eliminate incidents of hate and racism. As educators, we support these requests and I will soon be connecting with the Ministry to reiterate the need for additional support.

Helping students, parents and staff understand and address hate, including antisemitism, is essential to preventing it. Together, we must create safe, inclusive and respectful school environments where all students, staff and families are welcome and treated with respect.

Colleen Russell-Rawlins
Director of Education