School board blames racist staff after report finds Black students get disproportionally suspended
School board blames systemic racism on disproportional suspension rates.

Mike Campbell

February 26, 2024

Ontario’s Halton District Catholic School Board (HDCSB) has promised increased equity and diversity training for alleged racist staff members after finding a disproportionate number of Black students get suspended compared to Asian and White students.

School board blames racist staff after report finds Black students get disproportionally suspended

The board’s analysis revealed “a clear pattern of overrepresentation,” especially among black, Middle Eastern, and multiracial students, in suspension rates compared to their proportion in the student population.

Board members blamed systemic racism as one of the factors causing the variance, the report states

Administrators who issue suspensions, the report adds, need to “consider their own social location and be cognizant of biases and stereotypes. These are requirements of all HCDSB employees.”

At a February 20 meeting, board members further discussed ways to reduce the variance between groups, where the Chief of Research, Dr. Lisa Collimore, said staff members’ racial biases could be responsible for the variance in suspension rates.

She further said that more diversity and anti-racism training would help staff members be more “intentional when they are reviewing and considering equity factors that are influencing decision making.”

The report also acknowledged that other factors that could be responsible for the varied rates, including socioeconomic reasons.

“We intend to further examine these results by using other student census and Statistics Canada data about income known to be confounding factors to student health and engagement,” it states.

When asked what this entailed, the board’s Chair member said they would need to look at socioeconomic data from Statistics Canada such as average income by postal code, hinting that lower income families might be correlated with higher suspension rates.

The date by which the board intends to share those findings wasn’t provided.

Disproportionate suspension rates

Where a “disproportionality index” (DI) of 1.0 would equal a proportional suspension rate compared to the overall number of suspensions among all students from every ethnic group, the rate for Black students in 2022/2023 was 1.8 — nearly double their demographic representation.

White students were suspended just less than proportionally with a rate of 0.8 , and South Asian students had the lowest rate at 0.5.

Ontario Teacher Federation worried they’ll lose racialized teachers to proficiency test

Last year, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation expressed outrage over a court ruling that upheld the Ford government’s mandate requiring that candidate teachers pass a Math Proficiency Test (MPT).

The Ontario Teacher Candidates’ Council argued the test was unfair to racialized candidates, claiming that more of them would fail the test than would white candidates.

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