The Human Rights Office (HRO) Annual Report is consistent with the requirements of the Minister of Education's Direction 6 to YRDSB:
That the Board establish a robust Human Rights Office, properly staffed and resourced, that is responsible for human rights compliance, and processes and procedures to receive and respond to/investigate complaints of harassment and discrimination reported by staff, students and parents.
To ensure transparency and accountability, the HRO submits an annual report to the Board, detailing the activities of the HRO during the reporting period.
HRO Annual Report 2022-2023
The HRO Annual Report provides a snapshot of key HRO activities during the September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023 reporting period. The report was presented to Executive Council and then to the Learning, Equity and Well-Being Standing Committee in November 2023.
Each section of the annual report is posted in the drop-down buttons/features below.
The Human Rights Office (HRO) is committed to building respectful learning, teaching and working environments that are free from discrimination and harassment. The work of the HRCO is guided by ensuring the Board’s commitment to and compliance with its legal obligations to address issues of Code-based discrimination and harassment under Board Policy #240.0: Human Rights: Code-Related Harassment and Discrimination (Human Rights Policy #240).
Human Rights Policy #240 is based on Ontario’s Human Rights Code, which provides equal treatment without discrimination based on 17 Code protected grounds.
The HRO has prepared this Annual Report to highlight the important and ongoing work of the HRO in addressing human rights matters and supporting the YRDSB system through through professional development during the reporting period of September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023.
The HRO Annual Report is presented to Executive Council and subsequently to the Learning, Equity and Well-Being Standing Committee. For the 2022-2023 reporting year, the HRO Annual Report is presented jointly with the Annual Accessibility Report.
The Board’s commitment to human rights is carried out through the two primary goals of the HRO:
To act upon complaints confidentially, fairly and in a timely manner
To support the prevention of discrimination and harassment through human rights and accessibility education, learning and professional development.
A Coordinated Commitment to DAP 2.0
The HRO goals are aligned with the Director’s Action Plan (DAP 2.0) goals to support staff and students who are underserved and underperforming through a commitment to:
Foster Well-Being and Mental Health with a goal to build safe, inclusive and accessible learning and working environments where all feel they matter and belong based on principles of human rights.
Champion Equity and Inclusivity with a goal to increase our shared understanding of human rights, accessibility and the ongoing impact of colonialism through education, learning and outreach.
Build Collaborative Relationships with a goal to build trust with staff, students and families through confidential and respectful communication as well as responsive actions.
Empower Ethical Leadership with a goal to championing human rights and accessibility beyond legal compliance and in a way that elevates lived experiences and voices within the Board community.
HRO Governing Principles
The work of the HRO is shaped by five governing principles that have been developed throughout its six years of operation:
- Arm’s Length
While the HRO is committed to championing equity and inclusivity, matters specific to equity engagement within schools are addressed through Inclusive Schools and Community Service (ISCS).
The HRO mandate is centred on human rights and accessibility compliance and education. Our responsibilities to the YRDSB community include (but are not limited to):
Receiving and responding to human rights concerns brought forward by a member of the Board community;
Overseeing the Board's compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA);
Supporting preventative actions through the development and delivery of human rights and accessibility education, training and outreach;
Providing leadership on Board policies and procedures specific to human rights (Policy #240) and accessibility (Policy #407);
Managing the Barrier Buster electronic reporting tool that allows Board community members to communicate any barriers within the learning and/or working environment; and
Advising the Board's senior leadership team on its strategic goals and actions through a human rights and accessibility lens.
HRO Priority #1:
To act upon complaints confidentially, fairly and in a timely manner
A core mandate of the HRO is to address issues of discrimination and/or harassment that violate the Human Rights Code. Human rights concerns are typically reported directly through a confidential online Reporting Form or by email at email@example.com.
Each matter is reviewed and assessed to determine if the reported incident connects to a protected ground of discrimination under the Code.
The HRO does not take on human rights complaints that are actively being addressed by another department, even if they may be Code-based. Management may consult with or refer a human rights complaint/investigation to the HRO.
The HRO also provides general information to Board community members on their rights and responsibilities under the Code. When appropriate, the HRO promotes early dispute resolution options to resolve complaints.
During the 2022-2023 reporting year, the HRO received a total of 108* new files from September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023.
*(File tracking and classification changed during the reporting period and therefore file numbers cannot be compared to previous reporting years.)
The HRO addressed 103 complaints and requests for consultation by:
- providing guidance and information on human rights;
- fact finding;
- early resolution; or
- referral to the appropriate department.
The remaining 5 files were requests for information misdirected to the HRO. These files were responded to and directed to the appropriate department.
HRO Complaint and Consult Files by Code ground
A breakdown of HRO complaint and consult files by Code ground is included in the chart below for the 2022-2023 reporting year. A breakdown of results from the 2021-2022 reporting year is also included for comparison.
|Race and related
|Gender Identify and Expression
In the 2022-2023 reporting year, race and disability were the highest reported Code grounds to the HRO. This is consistent with previous reporting years.
Race-based complaints: The HRO received complaints from parents, students and staff alleging discrimination based on race and related grounds. Files related to incidents of anti-Black racism were received in higher numbers than those related to other racialized or Indigenous identities. The HRO engaged with the Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy implementation team for support and/or referred matters related to anti-Black racism.
Disability-based complaints (including mental health): Most disability-based complaints from staff and parents/students relate to allegations of failure to accommodate specific disability-related needs. During this reporting period, the Human Rights Office received several complaints about the new YRDSB de-streamed math curriculum. Many parents of students with disabilities or IEPs were concerned that the Board only offered academic math. The HRO facilitated conversations with Student Services and other areas of the Board to see how the complaints might be resolved. Beginning in September 2023, based on a student's individual need, YRDSB offered Grade 10 applied math.
Gender identity and/or expression-based matters: The HRO's engagement on issues related to gender identity and/or expression were mostly consultative. In 2022-2023, the HRO received complaints about staff misgendering students and staff making disparaging remarks about preferred pronouns. Discussions were focused on the rights of students to express their preferred gender identity with or without parental consent.
The following chart shows per cent of complaints filed by each Board constituent group during the 2022-2023 reporting year. Board constituent groups include parents and students, staff, and external community members. Results from the 2021-2022 reporting year are also included for comparison.
|Parents and students
The majority of complaints in the 2022-2023 reporting year were filed by parents of students.
HRO Priority #2:
To support the prevention of discrimination and harassment through human rights and accessibility education, learning and professional development
During the 2022-2023 reporting period, the HRO developed and delivered human rights and accessibility training sessions and other professional development engagements throughout the YRDSB community. Engagements and participation with relevant external stakeholders are also listed in this section.
The HRO continues to develop and facilitate professional development and learning opportunities for YRSB staff to build awareness and understanding of the importance of human rights. During the 2022-2023 school year, the HRO delivered 13 training sessions on the following topics:
Human Rights, Anti-Discrimination and Bias
Introduction to Human Rights
These training sessions were delivered to members of the following Board areas/departments:
Senior Leadership Team
Caring and Safe Schools
Elementary and secondary school support staff
Parent, Family and Community Engagement Advisory Committee (PEAC)
The HRO also developed an online module on Human Rights, Anti-Discrimination and Bias. This module is now available on demand for all staff through the Board's internal Connect2Learn portal (C2L).
In addition to training, the HRO created awareness through the following initiatives:
- The HRO developed a series of tweets, including facts and snippets about human rights, for posting on the Board's twitter account during Human Rights Week (December)
- The HRO consulted on the Every Student Counts Survey
Human Rights and Equity Advisors Community of Practice: The Ministry of Education facilitates a community of practice with Human Rights and Equity Advisors (HREAs) and other human rights practitioners working at school boards across the province. The purpose of this community is to share resources, discuss systemic human rights issues, and provide support.
Municipal Diversity and Inclusion Group (MDIG): MDIG brings together 20 member organizations that serve people who live, work and play in York Region. The Group consists of municipalities, police services, hospitals, school boards, conservation authorities and agencies. The goal of this Group is to promote inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) within York Region. YRDSB has committed to upholding the values of and promote IDEA through training opportunities and ensuring employees maintain professional conduct.
External Research Review Committee (ERRC) : YRDSB supports research studies that align with priorities outlined in Board plans. The ERRC is responsible for reviewing research requests by institutions, agencies, staff members, or other individuals who wish to conduct research within the Board. All research that is not initiated by the Board must be approved by the ERRC.
The HRO leads the Board's commitment to accessibility. This commitments to accessibility is aligned with the four MYSP priorities and is carried out through four Multi-Year Accessibility Goals.
Provide customer service excellence by promoting accessibility best practices that give meaningful access to all students and staff, including those with disabilities.
Provide accessibility training, education and outreach to build awareness, knowledge and attitudes to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility.
Engage the Accessibility Advisory Committee that operates through shared responsibilities and inter-departmental collaboration, while also engaging people with disabilities.
Complete and publish an Annual Accessibility Report to demonstrate accountability for the Board’s progress in implementing the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan.
As required under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), an Annual Accessibility Report is prepared as a separate document from the HRO Annual Report. The Annual Accessibility Report describes the measures that YRDSB has taken in the 2022-2023 school year to identify, remove and prevent barriers for students, staff and other Board community members with disabilities.
The Annual Accessibility Report describes the various Multi-Year Accessibility goals and objectives achieved in the reporting year. The five sections of the Annual Accessibility Report are outlined below:
- General Requirements Achieved in 2022-2023
- Customer Service Standards Achieved in 2022-2023
- Information and Communication Standards Achieved in 2022-2023
- Standards for the Built Environment Achieved in 2022-2023
- Employment Standards Achieved in 2022-2023
Feedback or questions about the Annual Accessibility Report is both encouraged and essential for advancing accessibility at YRDSB in a way that recognizes the needs of all learners and people with disabilities. Contact the HRO to provide feedback via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I provide feedback?
To provide feedback or request more information about the HRO Annual Report, please contact the Human Rights Office at:
Phone: 905-884-2046 ext. 255
Dr. Bette Stephenson Centre for Learning, Room 202
York Region District School Board
36 Regatta Avenue
Richmond Hill, ON L4E 4R1
Download and access the PDF version of the HRO Annual Report 2022-2023.
Previous HRCO Annual Reports (in PDF):