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Toronto District School Board

Elementary Alternative Schools Update

Dear Parents/Guardians/Caregivers,

We apologize for writing to you during a holiday and holy day for many families. We believe it is important to keep you updated on the elementary alternative schools application process.

TDSB is deeply concerned about the system error that prevented some applicants from underrepresented communities from being fully considered in the admission process for 17 of the Board’s elementary alternative schools. We extend a sincere apology to the students and families who were affected.

We hope the following information clearly explains what occurred, as there appears to be incorrect information circulating. We will also outline the next steps in our plan to do our best to rectify the situation.


TDSB elementary alternative schools were established to foster an engaged learning environment in a smaller school setting, focused on community collaboration, choice, and inclusion.

The admissions process for these schools used to be managed by each school using their own manual processes. In an effort to modernize the process, a new centralized process was designed and implemented for the first time this year. The new process was also designed with the goal of ensuring participation and enrollment prioritized representation amongst First Nations, Inuit, and M├ętis students, as well as those from other historically and currently underrepresented communities such as racialized students, students who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+, and students with a disability. This change was made with the support of the Alternative Schools Community Advisory Committee and the approval of the Board of Trustees.

New Centralized Process

The new process involved three stages.

First, available spaces were offered to Indigenous applicants and applicants who are siblings of current student sin specific schools. Every Indigenous applicant was accepted to available spaces. 

Second, self-identified underrepresented students were selected randomly to fill 25%of remaining available spaces. These spaces were successfully filled in full by applicants who self-identify as from an underrepresented group.

Third, the remaining spaces were to be determined through a random selection process of all remaining applicants. This is where the error occured.

The list of self-identified historically and currently underrepresented applicants who were not selected in the second stage should have been merged with all other applications to form a pool for computerized random selection at stage three, but this step did not occur. The result is that this group of applicants were not included in the random selection process for the remaining available spaces.

Next Steps

TDSB is reviewing all the data associated with the application process across the entire system, and on a school-by-school basis. This process will take some time, and we apologize for the delay, but it is necessary for the TDSB to do a full analysis of the data in order to determine appropriate restorative measures including, where possible, allocating the 89 currently available spaces to students who identified as underrepresented during the application process. Our goal is to increase the representation of historically and currently underrepresented students in elementary alternative schools in alignment with the intention of the new process.

Final Note

It is important to note that some media outlets and several social media posts have inaccurately reported that this process excluded all underrepresented students. This is not true. 25% of historically and currently underrepresented students and 100% of Indigenous students were offered a space. Similarly, some have conflated this admission selection process with those for TDSB central student interest programs and out of area admissions. Those application processes ran successfully and accurately.

TDSB will provide our students, families, and the entire community with further updates, including our plan for a resolution, as soon as possible. Again, we are sorry this has happened and sorry for any confusion that has ensued.


Colleen Russell-Rawlins
Director of Education

Leola Pon
Associate Director

Audley Salmon
Associate Director

Louise Sirisko
Associate Director