By Jacob Dubé
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) passed a motion Wednesday night to suspend the Student Resource Officer (SRO) initiative program, days after Ryerson was approved to conduct a review of the program.
The board’s trustees voted to suspend the controversial program that places armed police officers in high schools until they’ve completed their own review, due in November. Ryerson’s review for the Toronto Police Services Board that was approved on Aug 24, and is expected to release initial findings in January 2018.
TDSB Chair Robin Pilkey told the Star “It was felt that the presence of (officers) during the review when we were asking people to talk about them might be intimidating and create a potential bias.”
At the Aug. 24 meeting, Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders explained that the program exists to benefit students’ safety. “The program works in partnership with students, teachers, school administrators, school boards, parents, other police officers and the community to establish and maintain a safe and healthy school community.”
However, many people disagree with Saunders’ remarks, including Desmond Cole, an activist who spoke against the motion for Ryerson to review the program, at the board meeting.
“If Ryerson wanted to show integrity, they wouldn’t participate in this study,” he said. “This study is founded on the premise that this program is good and needs to stay … the only way that Ryerson can participate in this study is if they agree to [the] police’s flawed bylaws.”
With files from Annie Arnone