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TDSB Continues to Violate Ontario Education Act

Press Conference
Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (District 12)
1482 Bathurst Street, Suite 300


*Roger Langen (Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation District 12)
*Pamela Dogra (Elementary Teachers of Toronto)
*Navjeet Sidhu (Community Social Planning Council of Toronto)
*Albert Koehl (Lawyer, Education Rights Taskforce)
*Amanda Parris (Grassroots Youth Collaborative)
*Amarna Moscote (Parkdale Legal Services)
*Paloma Villegas (No One Is Illegal-Toronto)

Toronto- In the wake of a new school year, thousands of non-status students will not be strapping on their backpacks or getting on the school bus because the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has left them behind. Under heat from school communities, the TDSB voted to adopt a Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) and Sanctuary Zone Policy, but has failed to implement real changes on the ground.

In effect, this policy would prohibit schools from requesting information pertaining to a student or family's immigration status. If immigration status is discovered by the schools, they would be barred from sharing this information with other branches of government, namely Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency. Furthermore, this policy would make schools bar the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) from coming onto school property, stopping them from removing students from a learning environment.

The fight for a DADT Sanctuary Zone Policy was sparked in 2006 when students were dragged from their classes by the CBSA, arrested, detained and deported. In one case two sisters were captured at their school and used as bait by the CBSA to force their parents out of hiding.

Some undocumented parents across the GTA remain unwilling to risk detention and deportation in order to send their children to school. Many who do decide to take the risk are turned away. The Community Social Planning Council of Toronto found in a study that almost 25% of children they surveyed were denied enrollment in public schools because of their immigration status.

Denying students their inalienable right to education is in violation of Section 49 of Ontario's Education Act, which asserts the right of non-status children to have access to an education and a safe school environment. Premier Dalton McGuinty himself has acknowledged that Ontario schools should not "pick and choose" which children can enter the classroom based on their immigration status.

It's time that the TDSB fulfill their responsibility to all Toronto students and make sure that undocumented students are in school this September.

For more information contact Farrah Miranda at 416-805-7489.

Read more on the Don't Ask Don't Tell Campaign