TDSB changes high school absence notification policy after teen’s recent abduction

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has announced it is changing its policy for notifying parents of high school students if their children are absent from school.

The announcement comes less than a week after a 14-year-old boy was allegedly abducted by multiple suspects from his North York home. He was found the day after he was reported missing.

However, there were questions raised about why the teen’s parents weren’t notified about his absence from his school.

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird previously said officials launched an investigation into what happened and that four staff members were put on home assignment pending the results of that investigation.

He said TDSB procedure is for attendance to be recorded each period of the school schedule and for two phone calls to be made to parents and guardians about absences — one at 11 a.m. and one at 6 p.m. Bird said the boy’s absence wasn’t inputted by staff in time for the 11 a.m. attendance calls.

On Monday, the board’s director of education, John Malloy, issued a letter to parents to advise them of an amendment to the board’s policy. He said the first phone calls about unreported student absences should begin no later than 75 minutes after the school day begins.

“As we have witnessed in the events that unfolded last week, delays in taking and reporting attendance can have serious consequences for student safety,” he wrote.

“In the weeks ahead, we will be reviewing the TDSB’s student attendance and safe arrival procedures to determine how the procedures can be further strengthened and will be working with schools to better understand current practices as part of this process.”

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