Letter alleges unsafe and violent conditions at a Mississauga school as board investigates

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Published May 23, 2023 at 1:45 pm

tomken road middle school mississauga

A letter circulating on social media describes unsafe and chaotic conditions at a Mississauga public school.

The letter is not signed but it purports to be from a teacher at Tomken Road Middle School in Mississauga. Retired lawyer R. Michael Teper posted the letter on Twitter stating he has verified the identity of the teacher.

The teacher, apparently speaking on behalf of a group of teachers and staff, describes a “state of crisis” at Tomken Road Middle School where teachers, custodians, support staff, students, and office staff face “countless unsafe interactions on a daily basis.”

“The climate of our school is one of violence, fear and is on its way to being one of long lasting trauma for many students,” the letter writer states. “We write this letter as a desperate call for help to make changes to our learning environment in order to make it the safe place it once was.”

The letter lists over 20 examples of “disorderly conduct” that have transpired from September until now.

Students have defecated on bathroom floors and rubbed feces on the wall; thrown items such as food or metal doorstoppers at students, smoked or vaped inside the school, uttered homophobic slurs at staff and students, threatened students with Exacto knives; and stolen “weaker students'” wallets, phones and other items.

The letter writer goes on to say they have attempted to get help but have now exhausted all methods they have been trained to use.

“No suspensions or expulsions have been made,” the teacher says. “There are no consequences other than restorative conversations with students and the parents that are still willing to show up.”

The staff wants to reinstate some structure to the school, ban cell phones and they want students to take accountability for their actions.

“Our school no longer serves as a place of learning and community,” the teacher writes. “Please help us.”

 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Peel District School Board says they are aware of the anonymous letter and the board is currently investigating the matter.

The superintendent is also aware and is at the school today (May 23) facilitating a series of scheduled meetings with staff throughout the week, the spokesperson says.

“We can confirm that there have been investigations underway regarding items alleged in the open letter and that the Superintendent has indeed attended the school to support the school community through official board processes to date,” the statement reads.

“We can also confirm that for specific items alleged in the letter, student suspensions have taken place.”

The board has recently updated the school Code of Conduct. Through Policy 48, extensive Safe and Caring Schools training, and the recent Operating Procedure on Student Progressive Discipline and the Code of Conduct, staff are better able to characterize behaviour through an anti-racist anti-oppressive approach, the statement notes.

“We are committed to ensuring that our students and school staff learn and work in safe school environments where students thrive and flourish and staff encourage student success,” the spokesperson says. “The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is our top priority.”

Students and their families may anonymously use the SPEAK UP reporting tool as a contribution to the school board’s continued goal of positive school environments.

More information can be found in Safe and Caring Schools Policy #48.

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