`York Memorial Collegiate staff report violence and lawlessness

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After The Toronto Sun reports of violence and chaos at York Memorial Collegiate Institute, several teachers sent anonymous letters about conditions at the school.

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Fourteen teachers walked out in fear and desperation over school violence, an insider says, and were out of work for two weeks, until they were sent back to work by the Labor Department – for that the department continue its investigation.

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Each letter from YMCI school staff requested anonymity and explained how they thought the school was violent and dangerous, with accusations of incompetence on the part of the school board and administration.

The word anarchy was used to describe the way the school operated, and more than one letter referred to a complete lack of discipline – and a lack of tools for that discipline, with suspensions and expulsions made almost impossible.

The children are not held responsible at all, according to a letter; those who want to learn cannot, given the general atmosphere, and the teachers work in fear for their lives.

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A substitute teacher who works at many different schools wrote to say that there are several schools in the TDSB in the same state as York Memorial, and substitute teachers no longer go there.

This writer mentioned a recent incident where someone was shot in the face at school with a BB gun.

Again, there was talk of the disappearance of discipline, as well as respect for the administration and teachers.

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While a spokesperson was unavailable on Tuesday, the school board said last week officials would address concerns raised by staff, students or parents.

« All students and staff deserve to feel safe at school and at work,” the statement read. « TDSB staff, in conjunction with the Ministry of Labor and the Toronto Police Service, have worked closely to address safety concerns raised by a number of school staff. »

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This week, after the Mayor’s recent meetings with affected stakeholders, various changes were announced for TDSB schools.

These include: Funding from all three levels of government for initiatives that work on youth violence prevention (things like the Summer Jobs for Youth program, for example) will now be allocated in a more targeted manner to communities where the needs are greatest.

Six priority neighborhoods have been identified.

Taylor Deasley, spokesperson for Mayor John Tory’s office, said in a statement: « Toronto police have begun reassigning neighborhood officers to areas considered high priority. This will include areas that have recently experienced violent incidents.

« Toronto Police and the TDSB are also committed to establishing a more streamlined protocol between schools and neighborhood police so they can be proactive on safety issues. »

The city will also establish a “Services Fair” in partnership with the TDSB — a special event that will connect individual schools with the services they need most.

In addition, data sharing between all parties will be strengthened.

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