St. Michael’s College School has announced its president and principal have both resigned effective immediately.
The news comes after allegations of sexual assault and assault recently surfaced at the school, located near Bathurst Street and St. Clair Avenue West.
“President Fr. Jefferson Thompson, CSB, and Principal Greg Reeves have resigned, effective immediately, citing their shared desire to move the school forward without distractions and allow it to focus on healing and change after the horrific events of student misbehaviour that came to light last week,” the statement said.
Fr. Andrew Leung, a teacher at St. Michael’s College School between 2013 and 2016 who currently serves as a pastor in Edmonton, was appointed interim president. The statement said vice principals Emile John and David Lee will serve as the school’s acting co-principals. The statement doesn’t say how long the interim appointments will be in effect for, but it said the search will begin to hire a replacement president and principal.
Michael Forsayeth, chair of the school’s board of directors, praised Thompson and Reeves in the statement.
“Greg Reeves and Fr. Thompson have always put the welfare, education and formation of our students first – and they do so once again today,” he wrote.
“Having fulfilled their moral and ethical obligations to manage the immediate crisis and engage our school community, this courageous decision allows us to move forward with our goals: understanding how these events could have occurred, regaining the trust of our community and bringing cultural change to our school.”
Before Thursday, the school’s board of directors expressed support for Reeves.
The school has been criticized for not promptly reporting the alleged incidents to police.
Sex-related charges against six students were announced by Toronto police earlier this week in connection with an alleged sexual assault.
Police are now investigating a total of six incidents at the private Catholic school.
When asked about the announcement following a Toronto Police Services Board meeting on Thursday, Chief Mark Saunders said he didn’t want to comment on the principal’s actions in reporting the video. He said he is satisfied with the investigation to date.
“I’m looking forward for an opportunity to resolve this in the best manner possible and figure out what the best (way) going forward will be with respect to the overall investigation,” Saunders said.
Meanwhile, Mayor John Tory said he was unaware of the resignations.
“There’s nothing about it that is good news, but it think the resignation of two of the top people is consistent with the responsibility you take when you’re in a position of leadership,” he said.
“I think it also allows, when it happens, a new chapter so they can put some new leadership into place. They can make sure that all the changes that need to be made are in fact made and learn the lessons from what can be seen here as nothing other than a real tragedy for everybody concerned.”
Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson said in a written statement on Thursday that officials were “deeply concerned” after hearing about the incidents at the school.
“Our government has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any form of sexual assault and abuse,” she wrote.
“There is no place for this sort of behaviour in society and especially within our schools.”
St. Michael’s College School previously announced its launching an independent, third-party respect and culture review, cancelling all events, mid-year assessments and an anonymous voicemail for students to report “inappropriate behaviours and incidents they have experienced, seen, or heard about at the school.”
— With files from The Canadian Press and Jessica Patton