Noah Brown, a grade 12 student from Etobicoke School of the Arts poses for a photo at Sorauren Park in Toronto on Thursday, June 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Students call for resignation of principal who compiled list of black students

Students from a Toronto school are calling for the resignation of a principal who created a list of black students to track their performance.

Students from a Toronto school are calling for the resignation of a principal who compiled a list of black students to track their performance.

Peggy Aitchison, the principal at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, has said she compiled the list and circulated it among teachers in an attempt to categorize students with opportunity gaps, and acknowledged in an email to the school community that it was an “inappropriate approach.”

She asked for a transfer to a different school in a public letter sent this week — a request the Toronto District School Board said it approved.

The board has apologized for Aitchison’s actions, calling what she did a “mistake.” Aitchison did not respond to a request for comment.

Grade 12 student Marlee Sansom said she was “unbelievably angry” when she found out about the list from members of the school community. She said transferring Aitchison to another school isn’t enough, and called for the principal to resign as an employee with the board.

“Transferring someone just means they get a new start, a fresh start, and she can just redo that trauma somewhere else,” said the 18-year-old, who noted that many of her peers felt the same. “It doesn’t help the students that are still in the school.”

Sansom also said it was important for the board to thoroughly tackle issues of racial profiling in schools, and urged it to involve students in the process.

“The TDSB needs to be looking out for the students,” she said, adding she wasn’t always comfortable raising concerns about race-related issues with school administration.

Noah Brown, another Grade 12 student, said he saw his name on a copy of the list being shared among students and felt “pure sadness.”

“Over the course of this year I’ve been able to accomplish so much in terms of my art practice … I was disappointed because it was limiting my academic success to my identifiable race,” said the 18-year-old. “I didn’t know who to turn to.”

Brown said he wanted a direct apology from Aitchison.

“She was sort of letting the issue fade away rather than take it directly and be a responsible leader,” he said, adding that Aitchison’s list is an indication she should no longer be an educator.

“Peggy Aitchison is not a suitable leader for (Etobicoke School of the Arts) as well as any other school,” he said. ”If TDSB continues to have this principal within their organization then I believe they tolerate racism.”

Meanwhile, alumni from the school have sent a petition to the board calling for Aitchison to either resign or undergo equity and anti-racism training.

Former student Solana Cain, who co-created the petition, said the school holds students to rigorous standards, which indicates that those on Aitchison’s list are already high performers.

“Even if this were not the case, the assumption she made was that black students and families are inherently less capable than their white counterparts,” she said in a statement.

The TDSB said it received the petition and needed time to review the questions and concerns identified before responding.

Related: Trudeau says anti-black racism exists in Canada

Related: Viral video of B.C. woman’s rant makes it hard to deny racism, advocate says

Olivia Bowden , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Snowfall warning for Trans Canada Highway

Between 15 cm to 20 cm is expected

Highway conditions for Revelstoke

Compact snow and slippery sections on Trans Canada and Highway 23

No one in Revelstoke should face dementia alone

More than 66,000 people struggle with Alzheimer’s and dementia in B.C.

Sagmoen denied bail

Bail for Curtis Wayne Sagmoen was denied, to uproarious applause by rally supporters.

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Couple allegedly caught staking out Okanagan home

The man and woman were seen in a black Suzuki Tracker with a white back

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

Most Read