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

Bitter Saturna land-use dispute highlights legal grey areas

Unhappy Tsawout accuse leadership of cultural destruction

Greater Victoria enjoys sunny first day of spring

Summer-like temperatures of 21 degrees hit Wednesday for first day of spring

Sidney business organization cyber attacked

President’s contact list sent unsolicited messages

Discovery Island wolf continues to thrive

The wolf, known as ‘Takaya’, has lived on the island for seven years

Victoria police search for missing man, his vehicle and travel trailer

Last seen on March 17 driving white Honda Ridgeline bearing B.C. licence plate CG 4316

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Canucks hang on for 7-4 win over Senators

Horvat nets 2 for Vancouver

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Teacher reprimanded for conduct towards special needs student

Alan Stephen Berry told vice principal he did not have time to use positive strategies

Most Read