Toronto’s public schools are being told to scrap a so-called zero-tolerance discipline policy after complaints that it is used disproportionately against racial minorities and students with disabilities.
The Toronto District School Board and the Ontario Human Rights Commission have reached an agreement that would see Ontario’s Safe Schools Act interpreted differently than in the past.
The law, passed in 2000 under former premier Mike Harris, gives principals and teachers power to suspend or expel students in a variety of circumstances and calls for mandatory expulsion for a number of offences if they are committed at school. The offences include possession of a weapon, sexual assault, robbery, drug dealing, giving liquor to a minor and assault causing harm requiring medical attention.
Under the agreement, principals must look at other options, such as detentions, before suspending students. They must also look at what factors may have led to the misbehaviour.