No 'easy fix' to problem of school violence, TDSB says, but expert panel in works to give advice
Outreach worker injured Thursday after gun fired in high school washroom
One day after someone fired a gun in a high school washroom, the Toronto District School Board says there is no "easy fix" to the problem of school violence but it plans to set up an expert reference panel to look at next steps.
Ryan Bird, spokesperson for the TDSB, said in an interview with CBC Toronto on Friday that the panel will recommend ways to increase student safety.
"We are having active conversations with different levels of government. Internally, we are having conversations with staff, working with schools to address safety concerns," Bird said.
"But it will take some time before we get to the end, where we can start seeing those more formal recommendations on a systematic level that we can then begin to implement."
Bird's comments come after a string of violent clashes involving students on and off school property since the start of the academic year, including stabbings and shootings.
On Thursday afternoon, an outreach worker was injured when a gun was fired in the washroom at East York Alternative Secondary School, located at 670 Cosburn Ave.
Bird said the worker was from an outside agency, heard a commotion and went into the washroom to break up a fight.
CBC Toronto has learned that the worker was an employee at the Garry Hurvitz Centre for Community Mental Health, and will need foot surgery.
Police said they not yet identified the six people believed to be involved in the shooting, but are looking at a number of people of interest.
Bird said the board will approach community organizations and faith-based groups to take part in the panel. He said the board is hoping the panel will provide "solid advice."
"There is no one easy fix to this," Bird said.
"As far as being able to identify the one key reason behind it, I think everyone would like to know that," he added.
"The fact is, there is no one single issue to be addressed that can solve all of these issues."
Bird said more funding to schools may be required to increase student safety.
The board has pledged to ensure that every secondary school has a student engagement and safety team to make students aware of safety measures at their school and to create a safe schools audit team to make sure they're following safety policies, practices and procedures.
In a statement on its website, the TDSB says it is "formalizing a network of existing experts and organizations that directly work to reduce risk factors that lead to youth disengagement and violence through the creation of an expert reference group."
With files from Greg Ross