Ontario agrees to end zero-tolerance school policy
Ontario's Ministry of Education has reached a settlement with the province's human rights commission, agreeing to change its zero-tolerance approach to delinquent students.
The agreement comes nearly two years after a complaint was first launched on behalf of students by the Ontario Human Rights Commission alleging the strict safe schools policy was having a "disproportionate impact on racial-minority students and students with disabilities."
Thecontroversial safe schools policy has been criticized for its strict approach todisciplining students with suspensions and expulsions.
Under the settlement reached Tuesday, the ministry has agreed that the idea of "zero tolerance" has no place in school policies.
Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said the ministry will introduce changes to the safe schools provision of the Education Act that will involve a kinder, gentler approach to dealing with troubled students.
"What we're looking for is discipline that fits the incident and the behaviour," Wynne said.
Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall said the settlement is a good step toward addressing concerns, proving schools can be safe, fair and equitable for all students.
Under the settlement, the ministry has agreed to hold public consultations on changes to the safe schools policy and review the policy with a team that includes members of non-white and disabled communities.
The words "zero tolerance" will be removed from all ministry documents and schools will be informed that mitigating factors should be considered before a student is expelled or suspended.