Black Lives Matter Toronto wants police officers out of GTA schools

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Black Lives Matter Toronto wants police officers out of GTA schools

Black Lives Matter Toronto wants to eliminate the School Resource Officer Program, which stations uniformed officers in Toronto-area schools, as part of six changes targeting anti-black racism in the education system.

Officers have been stationed at schools since 2008, which was funded by a federal grant.

The Toronto group is demanding six specific changes to the primary and secondary education systems in the Greater Toronto Area, including implementing anti-black racism training at all levels of Toronto-area school boards and creating an advisory board of black parents.

Black Lives Matter Toronto staged a walkout Monday to lay out its demands.

It's in response to a report last week from a York University professor — that used TDSB data — to determine a large number of black students are being streamed into applied instead of academic programs and they are suspended at much higher rates.

About 20 Toronto teachers also took part, Black Lives Matter Toronto said. 

Supply teacher Hawa Sabriye didn't accept work Monday to join the protest and lead one of the workshops, which are being offered to educators, parents and students to identify and combat anti-black racism. The workshops were held at York Woods Library in Toronto's Jane and Finch neighbourhood.

"I think going into so many different schools across the city, I've noticed many different educators and administrators that have anti-black assumptions for students," said Sabriye. "This is creating barriers for many black children across the TDSB (Toronto District School Board), but also the Peel District School Board and the York Region District School Board and it's really impacting, not only their educational futures, but also their family life."

Sabriye said she joined the protest because she has a younger brother and cousins in the school system.

"There's an alarming number of black youth that aren't making it out of high school and I think the TDSB and other school boards have to acknowledge this and realize it's a real issue," she said.

'Their intelligence is not being valued'

Pascale Diverlus, a Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder, said the day of action will offer workshops aimed at ending racism in the classroom.

"It's about providing programming for educators and for parents, to be able to learn how to recognize anti-black racism within the school system and how to dismantle it," she said.

"Their intelligence is not being valued, so this day is about calling attention to those things. But also showing it can be done in a way that actually supports black students; in a way that they can thrive and they can actually go to school and learn, which is what they are there to do."