Toronto school staff reportedly had blackface in class; is now on homework

An employee at a high school in West End Toronto has been placed on homework after he was allegedly found wearing a blackface in the middle of the Halloween celebrations on Friday.

In a letter to parents, guardians and students from the Parkdale Collegiate Institute, just south of Queen Street and east of Roncesvalles Avenue, principal Julie Ardell said a “number of students” warned the deputy principal that a white employee was in blackface.

Ardell said immediate steps were taken to resolve the incident, including getting staff to wash their faces so as not to “cause further damage.”

“Caricatures of people’s race or culture are inappropriate and offensive and hurtful. “Whether this was the intention or not, it was racist and dehumanizing,” Ardell wrote.

The school said it has since filed a report with the Toronto District School Board based on its reporting and response to racist and hate incidents involving or affecting students in schools.

Meanwhile, the employee, who is not identified in the letter, has been put on a paid homework assignment as an investigation into the incident begins.

“On behalf of Parkdale CI, I acknowledge and deplore the damage this incident has caused to students, staff and families and our common school climate,” Ardell said. “While we have begun work on addressing anti-black racism and all forms of discrimination, it is clear that we need to do more.”

A signature drive has been set up in the wake of the incident, with organizers compiling a list of demands from the TDSB to address racism and discrimination, as they say, found in the boardrooms’ classrooms.

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