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The Toronto District School Board head office at 5050 Yonge St., Toronto, on Feb 6, 2018.Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

The Toronto District School Board will not redo a lottery process for admission to its elementary alternative schools despite accidentally leaving out a group of students from under-represented communities.

Instead, the school board said in a letter to families Friday, it will offer more than 130 seats to racialized and marginalized applicants who should have been included in the lottery. It is unclear, however, in which schools those spots are located.

“We know this has been a stressful and upsetting experience for many applicants and their families and we sincerely apologize,” wrote education director Colleen Russell-Rawlins and three associate directors.

The TDSB, the country’s largest school board, changed the admission process this year for its sought-after alternative schools and specialized high schools to address historical inequities that excluded certain groups of students. The changes meant applications were handled centrally through a lottery system, not by individual schools.

Earlier this month, the board revealed it had excluded a group of students from the lottery, which was for spaces in 17 elementary alternative schools. The schools have smaller student populations than mainstream schools and have special focuses, including social justice and entrepreneurship. More than 1,200 students applied for 458 spots, and the board said 589 of those applicants self-identified as being from under-represented groups.

The board said it had prioritized applications from Indigenous students and siblings of current students for the next school year.

A computer system then separated out students from under-represented groups, including Black and Middle Eastern children, those who identify as LGBTQ and students with a disability. The board offered a random selection of these children 25 per cent of the available spaces, in keeping with its mandate to make the schools reflect the overall student population.

But the applicants from that pool who did not receive spots in that round were somehow excluded from the lottery’s last stage, when the remaining spots were handed out.

The board blamed a third-party vendor for not merging the two wait lists.

On Friday, the TDSB said it would make 98 spots available to students who were excluded from the lottery. These would be spots that were previously declined by other students or added by the board.

In addition, the board said it would offer 34 more seats across its schools to students from under-represented communities. This was done by maximizing available spaces in some grades, keeping in mind class caps and class-size averages, the board said.

After learning of the TDSB’s error, a group of families whose children were excluded as well as some who were admitted threatened legal action against the board. Yukimi Henry, whose son was excluded from the final stage of the lottery, is among them.

Ms. Henry said the TDSB’s response Friday was “inadequate,” pointing out that there was no indication where the 132 spots were available.

The group of parents called for the board to either redo the final stage of the lottery or increase resources to allow students from those under-represented groups to attend their chosen schools.

Ms. Henry said the group will discuss whether to file their application for a judicial review.

“There is so little faith left in both their competency and their sincerity in addressing the harms,” she said. “They are essentially creating prejudice through the ongoing lack of transparency and the delays.”

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