Toronto school proms get go-ahead

Toronto public high school students — who have gone without extracurricular activities due to a dispute between Ontario's teachers and the government — will be able to have spring proms.
'One of the most important milestones of a student's time in secondary school is the school prom,' reads a Toronto District School Board motion pushing to save the annual event despite an ongoing labour dispute between Ontario teachers and the provincial government. (Sedalia Democrat, Sydney Brink/Associated Press)

Toronto public high school students — who have gone without extracurricular activities due to an ongoing dispute between Ontario's teachers and the provincial government — will be able to have spring formals.

The Toronto District School Board was to vote on a motion at its Wednesday night meeting, but the motion was withdrawn by school trustee Pamela Gough after Director of Education Donna Quan told the board that "98 per cent" of schools have confirmed plans for a prom.

Quan said that the other two per cent of schools have plans for some sort of commemorative events for their students.

There was a fear that the continuing dispute between the province's public school teachers and the government would have an impact on the traditional end of year formals.

Most public schools teachers are refusing to oversee extracurricular clubs and sports in response to legislation that imposed contracts on teachers and limits their ability to negotiate and strike.

The teachers normally supervise the formals.

Board offers 'full support' for proms

The motion proposed by Gough would have asked principals and support staff to oversee the events.

Quan's announcement came as a surprise to both Gough and student trustee Kourosh Houshmand who were desperately seeking support from the board for a prom through the motion.

"We will offer you our full support in getting this done," Quan told Houshmand.

Houshmand said the school-year-end event was something the students deserved.

"Prom is like the playoffs. Imagine getting the Stanley Cup at the end of the season with no playoffs. It's the Game 7 closure we want."

York and Peel district school boards said they were already pushing forward with proms and graduation events without teacher assistance.

With files from the CBC's Jermaine Hylton and the Canadian Press