A Mississauga teacher who wrote a letter, posted anonymously on social media, detailing troubling allegations directed at a high school, speaks out in hopes of making the school a safe learning environment.
The complaints reveal a climate of violence in Tomken Road Secondary School that has students and staff fearing for their safety.
“Every morning I wake up and I’m scared to go to work,” the teacher told CTV News Toronto in an interview on Wednesday. “I fear walking the halls and possibly putting myself in a position where I have to have a dangerous interaction with a student.”
“I wrote the letter because I fear for the safety of our students,” they said. “I am devastated and there have been so many days that I have cried because I am so sad for the children.”
CTV News Toronto agreed not to name the teacher and protect his identity, fearing retaliation after they released a list of allegations over the weekend.
The teacher claims that the school, located in the Applewood Heights neighborhood With over 900 students attending classes, it is in a state of crisis, adding staff and students in grades 6-8 face countless unsafe interactions on a daily basis.
“Our school climate is one of violence, fear, and is on track to become a lasting trauma for many students,” the letter reads. “We are writing this letter as a desperate call for help in making changes to our learning environment to make it the safe place it once was.”
Among the complaints of disturbance of public order since September They are students defecating on the bathroom floor and rubbing feces on the wall, students writing hate speech targeting teachers’ ethnicities and uttering homophobic slurs, students threatening physical violence against staff members or other students, as well as film and distribute fights that take place before, after and during school hours.
The teacher said that the problems started during the last school year and have increased this year.
“Unfortunately, it has reached a point where it is now uncontrollable.”
In a statement, the Peel District School Board (PDSB) He said the safety and well-being of his students and staff is the top priority, adding that investigations into the letter’s allegations are ongoing.
When it comes to specific allegations, the school board told CTV News Toronto that student suspensions have occurred, adding that the superintendent was on Tomken Road on Tuesday to facilitate meetings with staff.
“They need to put some systems in place,” said mother Maryam Iftakhar. “Since I’ve had four kids in my car, they’re discussing things like this happened, and this person did this, and girl fights, boy fights and throwing balls at the teacher.”
“I can’t believe that such young children are involved in all of this. It is shocking,” said mother Kalpana Venkat.
The teacher said the superintendent only came to talk to the school’s teaching staff after the letter was made public.
“We need help. There are lives at stake, it will only escalate,” they add.
The teacher said staff want consequences for misbehavior, which is made more difficult since new provincial directives were put in place before the pandemic, addressing racism and dysfunction in Peel schools.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s office said the province is investing millions to combat school violence, but the boards are responsible for day-to-day operations at schools.
As for the letter, his office said it understands the frustrations of the person who wrote it and that the board is addressing their concerns.
SMALL GROUP OF PROBLEM STUDENTS ‘INFLUENCES’ OTHERS TO ACT BADLY: TEACHER
The teacher said the allegations revolve around a small group of troublesome students, adding that they influence other students to act badly.
“When other students see that there are no consequences and that there is no discipline, other students feel they have every right to disrespect teachers and our school community,” the teacher said.
“We can also confirm that, of the incidents mentioned in the letter, there is no widespread involvement of the school community,” the school board said.
In addition to more consequences, the teacher said they want more parents involved in addressing the issues and more resources to support students who put other students and staff in dangerous situations.
According to the PDSB, the superintendent and various departments have consistently worked with students, educators, and the school’s administrative team to jointly resolve problems when incidents occur at school, to support better teaching and learning, and to encourage participation. of the students.
The school board also said that the superintendent has made several visits to the school to meet with the administrative team and the families of the students in question.
“We are committed to ensuring that our students and school staff learn and work in a safe school environment where students thrive and thrive and staff foster student success,” said PDSB.
CTV News Toronto contacted the local teachers’ union about the matter, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
MISSISSAUGA SCHOOL TRUSTEE RESPONDS TO ALLEGATIONS
Lucas Alves is the PDSB trustee for the school neighborhood.
“I am deeply concerned by what I read in the anonymous letter and eagerly await the results of the investigation,” Alves said in a statement to CTV News Toronto.
“While I cannot provide specific details at this time, I assure you that we are actively reviewing the situation and exploring appropriate strategies to address any findings that arise from the investigation.”
He said he has received numerous calls and emails in recent days, and he encourages everyone affected to continue to share feedback.
“It is imperative that we prioritize the dignity, safety and well-being of everyone within our schools. Once the investigation is complete, along with my colleagues and staff, I will work diligently with parents and all relevant stakeholders to implement measures to ensure a positive and safe learning environment,” Alves said.