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First TDSB meeting in Toronto on Sept. 11, 2013. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
First TDSB meeting in Toronto on Sept. 11, 2013. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

In wake of tragic death, TDSB asks for road safety meeting Add to ...

The Toronto District School Board will ask to meet with police and city officials to improve road safety near schools after a teen was killed by a large truck on the first day of classes.

Trustees approved a motion on Wednesday evening that the board’s chair, Chris Bolton, schedule meetings with Toronto police chief Bill Blair and city officials to look for ways to improve traffic safety around schools. Among them would be to increase the number of crossing guards and tighten parking regulations and enforcement.

Demands to make the roads safer near schools have come from several quarters since Violet Liang was killed by a large truck as she walked to school to start Grade 10 at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute. Violet, 14, died just a short distance away, in front of Elia Middle School.

Violet was the second Toronto student killed by a large truck in six months. In March, five-year-old Kayleigh Callaghan-Belanger died after being hit by a city garbage truck on her way home from school.

Toronto city councillor Anthony Perruzza told The Globe and Mail last week that he planned to propose a motion to prohibit truck traffic near schools when students arrive in the mornings and leave at the end of the day.

Trustees also voted on a motion to ask Ontario's Education Minister Liz Sandals to seek a ruling on whether a seniority hiring rule would violate the human rights code.

Trustee Howard Goodman, who introduced the motion, said Regulation 274, which requires school boards to hire teachers based on seniority for long-term supply jobs, would limit the board's ability to employ a diverse workforce.

"That hurts kids," he told trustees.

The government said it introduced Regulation 274 to prevent nepotism and favouritism in hiring practices, but critics charge that seniority-based hiring will exacerbate the employment crisis hurting teachers. The provision requires principals to hire from within the first five years on the seniority list for long-term occaisonal contracts, and not necessarily the ones they believe are better suited for a position.

New teachers have to work at least 20 days of supply teaching in order to be interviewed for the long-term list. If successful, they are now at the bottom of the seniority pile, and will be hard-pressed to find a contract position.

Ms. Sandals has acknowledged concerns, and said there are working groups established to discuss potential improvements to the regulation.

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