The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is looking at ways to better serve suspended and expelled students after a new board report said 307 students were expelled from Toronto public schools between 2011-12 and 2015-16, and a disproportionate number of those expelled were black.
The vast majority of the TDSB's more than 300 expelled students were males in secondary schools. Of those, 48 per cent self-identified as black, compared to 10 per cent who are white.
"We're alarmed, but I have to be perfectly honest with you and say there can't be much surprise there," said Jim Spyropoulos, a TDSB executive superintendent who oversees school programs for students who have been expelled.
Spyropolous says systemic factors of race and poverty find their way into the school system.
"Unless we start by addressing power and privilege and the bias that each one of us brings to our spaces each and everyday, then I don't know we are ever going to be able to confront the problem."
'An example to the entire country'
Carl James, a professor of education at York University, thinks collecting this kind of data is good step forward.
"So [the TDSB] could be an example for the entire country in how we can get the data and make decisions informed by the data."
James says it's important for school staff to know the community they are in.
"Find out how that community is perceived, so in knowing that community, then you develop school programs, relate to the students coming out of that community."
The Program and School Services Committee of the TDSB has recommended that this report be used for future program planning. It will now go to the trustees for a final vote on April 19.