Phase I of the TDSB’s review of Policy P042 (Appropriate Dress) began and ended at yesterday’s Governance and Policy Committee meeting. The committee discussed, and then approved, the recommendation that P042 be revised.

The committee’s decision was informed by no less than ten delegations on dress codes in the TDSB — six oral delegations and four written submissions. Each delegate described the deleterious effects that dress codes based on P042 have had on student wellbeing and student achievement. Each delegate called for an equity-based approach to Board dress policy. And each delegate mercilessly¬†slayed. In their prepared statements and in their responses to committee members’ questions, delegates were articulate, and uncompromising, and totally convincing.

Serendipitously, the other major item on the agenda was a review of Board policies related to sexual harassment and misconduct. Student activists from #NotJustRumours, and parents from the same community, delivered delegations describing how current Board policies have failed, and how they want to see these policies change. They decried an institutional inability to deal with sexual harassment, and the collateral damage this inability does to students’ dignity. This after the dress code delegates had described institutionalized sexual harassment, as well as racial profiling, and the impact this has on students’ dignity. It was impossible to miss the connections between the two agenda items. And, given the fierce commitment of delegates for both items, as well as the thoughtful support of Trustees Ausma Malik and Shelley Laskin, it was impossible not to hope that meaningful change might actually come to this institution.

Check out the Board’s plan for for what’s left of the P042 review here. Some amendments to this plan were made at yesterday’s meeting; our understanding of the updated timeline is as follows:

  • ASAP: The executive superintendent of Equity, Engagement and Well-being, Jim Spyropoulos, will send a system letter to TDSB principals to inform them that P042 is under review, to invite them to consider their school-based codes in light of the new Equity Policy, and to instruct them regarding the interpretation of the current policy — for example, to point out that the current policy does not suggest that enforcement be carried out via public humiliation;
  • By September: Board staff will revise P042;
  • September 12: A draft of the revised policy will be presented to the Governance and Policy Committee, and subsequently shared with principals;
  • September – December: The draft of the revised policy will be the subject of public consultations for 90 days, and feedback from these consultations will be incorporated into the revised policy;
  • January 2019: A new draft policy will be presented to the Governance and Policy Committee;
  • February 2019: The new draft of the revised policy will be presented to the Board of Trustees for final approval;
  • Spring 2019: Information and training sessions will be conducted for TDSB staff affected by the new policy.

We plan to play a prominent role in this fall’s public consultations, and to hold everyone involved accountable to this timeline. We’ll need your help to do so. Keep an eye on this site, follow us on Twitter, like us on FB, subscribe to our newsletter — one way or another, please keep in touch!

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