Schools safety report says Jordan Manners died of ‘pure neglect’
Andrew Wallace/Torstar News Service
Jordan Manners died of "pure neglect" — a result of the cutbacks to the kind of supports at-risk students need, says the head of a panel that delivered a stinging indictment of safety in the city’s high schools.
The Toronto District School board is "nowhere near sufficiently funded to manage" the diverse students it serves, and, to this day, doesn’t provide enough social workers or child and youth workers to C.W. Jefferys Collegiate, where Manners was shot to death last May, Julian Falconer said.
"Jordan Manners died on May 23, 2007, of flat neglect — pure neglect," he told reporters at a press conference at board headquarters yesterday.
"There was insufficient supports in place in our system to encourage him to make better choices," he said, adding society at large is to blame for what’s happened "and we need to fix it."
During the months of interviews and research for the report, the three-member panel heard from countless teens about weapons in schools.
"You could fill a Home Hardware with the amount of knives kids bring to school," Falconer said. "But we don’t find them."
Full of graphic, even gripping findings, the 1,000-page tome includes a five-page retelling of the shooting death of Jordan Manners based on interviews of those at the school that May afternoon — from the moment the 15-year-old boy asked to be excused from his business class to go to the washroom, to the moment some 20 minutes later when teacher Eric Colquhoun found him lying on his stomach near a stairway in medical distress.
As well, there are disturbing details of the alleged assault of a Muslim student in a school washroom by six males, who have since been charged with gang sexual assault. The report devotes a whole section to a troubling climate of sexual aggression in the halls and recommends many changes to address the problem.
"This report is a call to action, and act we will," said board Chair John Campbell, adding, however, "the school board cannot solve all the problems that face our youth."
Peppered with sharp quotes and stark numbers, Falconer paints the picture of a school system where some black students tell authorities "it is easier to get a gun than a job."