By Annie Arnone
Ryerson has not yet established a committee to review the School Resource Officer program (SRO) review, according to President Mohamed Lachemi.
In August, the University was asked to review the controversial program, which allows the presence of police officers in Toronto elementary schools. This move was made following a long board meeting held at police headquarters.
“My team made it very clear that as the university is doing this and leading this review and exercise, we want to make sure that we get the expertise of people who can really do this,” said Lachemi. “It’s a kind of a call from us to our faculty and researchers, but we may also have people who can collaborate with us from other universities.”
Toronto police chief Mark Saunders indicated that an interim report must be presented by the school in January, outlining the school’s findings on their research.
According to Lachemi, almost three months later, and with January fast approaching, the school has not yet established whether it will be a certain faculty or group of faculty leaders who will be in charge of the review.
For the purposes of the review, $80,000 has been granted to Ryerson from the Toronto police “special fund.” However, there has been no word on what aspects of the review that money is being used for.
According to inspector David Rydzik with Toronto police, officers met with Ryerson last month to discuss their needs. They plan on reconvening in mid-November.
Lachemi added that Ryerson’s priority is ensuring that the review is “transparent.”
“The review has to meet our requirements … it has to be evidence-based,” said Lachemi, adding that the university wants an unbiased review. “It’s not necessarily having an outcome that will always please the organization, but it has to have an outcome that will be based on [our] evidence.”
The program was introduced to schools following the death of 15-year-old Jordan Manners, who was shot on school grounds in 2008 and has been implemented in 75 different schools across Toronto.
Since its arrival, the program has been heavily criticized. Black Lives Matter demanded that Toronto police be removed from schools this year before the implementation of the review took place.
In September, weeks after the review was issued to Ryerson, the Toronto District School Board announced the suspension of the program until their own review—separate from Ryerson’s—is completed in November.
Ryerson is set to release a final review in June 2018.