Noah Brown, a grade 12 student from Etobicoke School of the Arts poses for a photo at Sorauren Park in Toronto on Thursday, June 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Students call for resignation of principal who compiled list of black students

Students from a Toronto school are calling for the resignation of a principal who created a list of black students to track their performance.

Students from a Toronto school are calling for the resignation of a principal who compiled a list of black students to track their performance.

Peggy Aitchison, the principal at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, has said she compiled the list and circulated it among teachers in an attempt to categorize students with opportunity gaps, and acknowledged in an email to the school community that it was an “inappropriate approach.”

She asked for a transfer to a different school in a public letter sent this week — a request the Toronto District School Board said it approved.

The board has apologized for Aitchison’s actions, calling what she did a “mistake.” Aitchison did not respond to a request for comment.

Grade 12 student Marlee Sansom said she was “unbelievably angry” when she found out about the list from members of the school community. She said transferring Aitchison to another school isn’t enough, and called for the principal to resign as an employee with the board.

“Transferring someone just means they get a new start, a fresh start, and she can just redo that trauma somewhere else,” said the 18-year-old, who noted that many of her peers felt the same. “It doesn’t help the students that are still in the school.”

Sansom also said it was important for the board to thoroughly tackle issues of racial profiling in schools, and urged it to involve students in the process.

“The TDSB needs to be looking out for the students,” she said, adding she wasn’t always comfortable raising concerns about race-related issues with school administration.

Noah Brown, another Grade 12 student, said he saw his name on a copy of the list being shared among students and felt “pure sadness.”

“Over the course of this year I’ve been able to accomplish so much in terms of my art practice … I was disappointed because it was limiting my academic success to my identifiable race,” said the 18-year-old. “I didn’t know who to turn to.”

Brown said he wanted a direct apology from Aitchison.

“She was sort of letting the issue fade away rather than take it directly and be a responsible leader,” he said, adding that Aitchison’s list is an indication she should no longer be an educator.

“Peggy Aitchison is not a suitable leader for (Etobicoke School of the Arts) as well as any other school,” he said. ”If TDSB continues to have this principal within their organization then I believe they tolerate racism.”

Meanwhile, alumni from the school have sent a petition to the board calling for Aitchison to either resign or undergo equity and anti-racism training.

Former student Solana Cain, who co-created the petition, said the school holds students to rigorous standards, which indicates that those on Aitchison’s list are already high performers.

“Even if this were not the case, the assumption she made was that black students and families are inherently less capable than their white counterparts,” she said in a statement.

The TDSB said it received the petition and needed time to review the questions and concerns identified before responding.

Related: Trudeau says anti-black racism exists in Canada

Related: Viral video of B.C. woman’s rant makes it hard to deny racism, advocate says

Olivia Bowden , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Paving complete, lines coming to the Malahat this week

$34 million safety project is 95 per cent complete with hope to relieve traffic congestion between Victoria and Nanaimo

UPDATE: Missing 77-year-old Barbara Munroe found safe

Shawnigan Lake RCMP are asking public to help find woman

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Rain and high winds to hit Vancouver Island this afternoon

Thursday and Friday to see downpour of 20 to 50mm and high winds on Vancouver Island

Ladysmith business owner finds discarded syringe buried in flower planter

When Cathy Lewis dug her hands into a wall planter outside Twisted… Continue reading

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read