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Toronto District School Board Stands Up for Non-Status Students

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Board Chair Declares: "Children are Not Illegal"

Toronto, May 24, 2006 - In a moving show of support, TDSB trustees stood tonight to ensure that all students have access to education without fear of detention, deportation, or disruption of their learning by federal immigration authorities.

In a unanimous decision, board trustees voted:

a) To accept in principle a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy for all Toronto public schools within the TDSB. This means that Board staff will not inquire about the immigration status of students or their families, and that this information, if discovered, will not be passed on to federal immigration authorities.

b) This policy will be put in place after consultation with community members and city agencies; it will take effect for the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year.

c) Federal immigration authorities will not be admitted to Toronto District School Board schools, but shall be referred to the office of the Director of the TDSB.

Amongst the teachers, lawyers, union leaders, members of the education sector, and community supporters at tonight's TDSB meeting were Kimberly and Gerald Lizano-Sossa, students removed from their school by immigration authorities on April 27th. Immigration authorities also removed two children from St. Jude's Catholic school on April 28th, holding them as bait until their mother arrived.

Although both families have been released from immigration detention through the diligent work of their supportive communities, these cases highlighted the crucial need for schools to be regarded as sanctuaries for students. Echoing the slogan of No One is Illegal-Toronto one of the organizations leading tonight's lobbying effort, Board chair Sheila Ward stated: “Children are not illegal”

On Saturday May 27th, the Lizano-Sossa family will be leading an “Access to Education Without Fear” contingent at the National Status for All! Day of Action being led by No One is Illegal, Toronto. The rally will begin at 1pm at OISE (252 Bloor St. West), and proceed to Dufferin Grove Park for a community celebration.

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