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

Langley woman’s caregivers pen unflinching book about her struggles

The authors and the woman they care for will be at an Abbotsford book signing on Saturday, Feb. 16.

Langley seniors make a sweet surprise for Valentine’s Day

Handmade paper baskets will be given to Meals On Wheels clients.

Garry Handlen’s ‘Mr. Big’ confession could have been fabricated, judge says

Details revealed of why evidence of Abbotsford girl’s 1975 murder was found inadmissible

Sources Langley food bank struggles to find new home

Sources Langley food bank has to be out of its current location by early spring.

Lawyers spar in sentencing over $6 million Langley fraud

The second man to plead guilty in the Aggressive Roadbuilders case was in court on Thursday.

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Police investigating after 14-year-old boy pepper sprayed at Surrey mall

Surrey RCMP say two males fled the scene before officers arrived on scene at Guildford Town Centre

Third measles case in Vancouver prompts letter to parents

Measles is highly contagious and spreads easily through the air

Abbotsford’s Matsqui prison beefing up security against contraband

Correctional service says officials found a number of unauthorized items during ‘exceptional search’

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

B.C. man known as ‘Papa Jimmy’ dies making daily trek to his wife

Maple Ridge 85-year-old made visits to New West for 12 years

Wilson-Raybould’s cabinet move due to departure from team: Trudeau

Jody Wilson-Raybould suddenly quit the cabinet this week, but Trudeau isn’t saying

VIDEO: Canada Winter Games athletes arrive in Red Deer from B.C. and beyond

Up to 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches will arrive throughout the day Thursday and Friday

Trump says he’ll declare national emergency to build border wall

In a rare show of bipartisanship, lawmakers voted Thursday to fund large swaths of the government

Most Read