The York Region District School Board has policies, procedures and guidelines in place that provide strong foundations for an equitable and inclusive workplace and learning environment. Ontario's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy provides the foundation for the work in school boards regarding equitable and inclusive practices in support of student achievement and well-being. York Region District School Board is seen as a prominent leader in the area of equity and inclusivity as a result of the multifaceted initiatives, programs and activities that are designed to ensure that diversity is honoured and affirmed for all in our schools.
The York Region District School Board is proud of its well-designed Equity and Inclusivity policies and related procedures that support our goal of inclusion.
The seventh annual Equity Symposium took place in April 2017 for school and workplace teams across the district. Each school is represented by a school administrator and an equity designate. Many service departments were represented by a manager and the department’s equity designate. Participants at this year’s symposium engaged in professional learning to support the implementation of equitable and inclusive practices in support of student achievement and well being.
Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and Well-being (BIPSA)
The BIPSA incorporates equity as a foundational practice which means that equity is to be embedded in school, classroom and workplace in the areas of math, modern learning and mental health. It is important that in these three foci, equity goals are informed by the BIP targets and recommended actions for the system, the workplace, school and the classroom.
Equity Strategy Steering and Action Committee (ESSAC)
A staff working committee, the Equity Strategy Steering and Action Committee (ESSAC), has been established to provide support in the implementation of the strategy and to ensure that schools and workplaces are equitable and inclusive. The committee is made up of over 50 staff members representing all sectors within the school Board. The committee is divided into seven workgroups that are developing equity and inclusivity implementation strategies for data, human resources, human rights, curriculum, professional learning, as well as student, parent and community outreach. Examples of the successful work out of ESSAC are as follows:
- Human Resources Workgroup
- Implemented an LTO hiring review
- From the recommendations of the review an equitable and inclusive hiring strategy was developed for all employee groups
- Human Rights Workgroup
- Collaboration with the Ontario Human Rights Commission on the development of a Human Rights Policy
- A rough draft of the policy has been developed and is in the process of internal review
- Curriculum Workgroup
- Re-visioning of the Equity Scan (a tool for self reflection for staff regarding equitable and inclusive learning and working environments)
- Development of the Revised Questions and Answers document
Program Accommodation for Faith Purpose: Religious Accommodations
As mandated by the Ministry of Education’s Equity Strategy, school boards are expected to take appropriate steps to provide religious accommodations for students and staff. Religious accommodation provisions are designed to promote respectful working and learning environments. Our Equity and Inclusivity Procedure #261.8 Religious Accommodation, and our guidelines entitled Program Accommodations for Faith Purposes have now been revised. The revised version clearly outlines the specific roles and responsibilities of staff in ensuring that religious accommodation is provided to students and employee as per the Ministry’s mandate.
Inclusive School and Community Services
Inclusive School and Community Services is comprised of three teams: the Community Resource Facilitator team, Teacher Liaison team, and the Reception Centre team. These three teams are designed to support implementation of the Board's Equity and Inclusive Education Policy and Procedures. The teams engage in a wide range of supports for schools, individual student support in addition to provide specific supports for families that may include language specific strategies to address needs. The unit works in partnership with a wide range of community partners to identity and remove barriers in order to ensure that we work collectively to address to barriers student achievement and well-being.
Equity and Inclusivity Advisory Committee
As the Equity and Inclusivity Advisory Committee (EIAC) enters its fifth full year in existence, EIAC continues to be responsible for supporting the Board's commitment to equitable and inclusive schools and workplaces. EIAC provides advice and consultation to the Director of Education and the Board of Trustees on matters of equity and inclusivity. EIAC also provides advice regarding the development and implementation of the Board's Equity and Inclusivity Strategy, policies and procedures and to help ensure that the Board addresses all dimensions of diversity.
Equity and Inclusivity Student Conferences
Inclusive School and Community Services is responsible for the leadership and coordination of several student conferences focused on equity and inclusivity. The student conferences are as follows:
Students participate in a student led conference that continues the learning from the other equity and inclusivity student conferences. The workshops for this conference are co-planned and led by YRDSB students, staff, and community partners to promote equity and inclusivity in schools. In addition to having school-based clubs share best practices that support inclusivity, a wide variety of equity-based topics are presented by community partners including, York Region Police, Canadian Mental Health Association, the Yellow Brick House and the York Region Learning Disabilities Association of York Region.
Secondary students from across York Region took part in this student this conference which is for secondary school Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs). Conference participants engage in a range of workshops that support the work of GSAs in their development of equitable and inclusive environments that are free of bullying and discrimination for all students. The conference is an opportunity for GSA members and their teacher advisors from across the region to share best practices, learn new information and to engage in practices that welcome and affirm all social identities within their schools.
This conference is aimed at raising student awareness around children’s mental health and well-being for our Grade 7-8 students. The conference provides interactive activities around mental health indicators, coping strategies for students, breaking the stigma of mental health and strategies for school leaders to promote well-being and awareness.
Together We’re Better
This Grade 7-8 learning opportunity for students is held in the spring each year. The conference hosts over 900 students and offers over student workshops on a range of topics focused on equity and inclusivity. Students are engaged by keynote speakers and have the opportunity to attend four workshops during the day. Teacher workshops are included for staff to support culturally responsive approaches to the curriculum and to support the learning of their students back at their schools.
Updated January 2018