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Ottawa’s largest school board votes to remove police from schools

Trustees with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board voted Monday night to end the board's participation in the School Resource Officer program. Craig Lord / Global News

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board passed a motion Monday night to “immediately and completely” end its engagement with the School Resource Officer (SRO) program, effectively removing police from English-language public schools in the city starting this fall.

The board gathered for more than four hours at a special committee of the whole meeting Monday to debate the motion from trustee Lyra Evans.

The proposal to end the OCDSB’s use of the SRO program had broad support in the final vote, with only one objection.

Read more: Board votes to remove school resource officers from Guelph’s public schools

The OCDSB will reevaluate its relationship with the Ottawa Police Service in the wake of the decision, with an eye to meeting only the minimum provincial statutory requirements when the 2021-22 school year begins in the fall.

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Other elements to the motion will see the board publish a formal apology to students and communities who have been harmed by the presence of police in Ottawa schools and the board itself will participate in anti-racist and decolonization training.

The OCDSB also hopes the funds allocated for the SRO program can be put toward funding a new mobile crisis team for youth.

“I think it’s important that we propose an alternative model to policing,” Evans said.

The proposal followed a report from the board’s Human Rights and Equity Advisor recommending the OCDSB end its participation in the SRO program, citing feedback from the school community that said the presence of police officers in schools made them feel less safe and less engaged.

The move to remove police from Ottawa schools follows similar decisions from the Upper Grand District School Board in Guelph back in April, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board a year ago and the Toronto District School Board in 2017.

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