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UCC responds to Toronto Star article

As you may be aware, the Toronto Star has published the second article in an expose about convicted sex offender Yusuf Ali Talukder, discovered to be working as principal of the Dhaka Learning Centre, an after-school tutoring program in Toronto.

The upshot of the article is that, broadly speaking, private schools are a more easily-accessible haven for sex offenders, owing to the lack of governmental oversight.

We’re disappointed that reporter Olivia Carville’s June 26 article contains inaccuracies and false generalizations despite much diligent back and forth with her contacts at Upper Canada College including Ruth Ann Penny, director of community relations, and Anne-Marie Kee, executive director of the Canadian Association of Independent School (CAIS).

To begin, Carville groups all private schools into one body with no system of checks and balances. Remarkably, she fails to differentiate or explain the stringent processes and professional development opportunities we have in place as one of 40 Ontario schools accredited by CAIS. In addition to bi-annual ministry of education inspections, we also submit to cyclical inspections by CAIS and by the International Baccalaureate Organization.

Most importantly, our human resources team submits all new hires to a criminal record check. As well, the vast majority of our teachers and academic administrators are, in fact, Ontario College of Teachers certified, a fact Carville failed to identify. (In her generalizations about private schools she only said that one quarter of Ontario private schools teachers are OCT-certified.) As OCT members, they are subject to disciplinary actions by that body. At UCC, termination will result if found guilty.

We welcome the opportunity to be part of any ongoing conversations about how to prevent any abuse-related scenarios from occuring in any and all organizations that care for or educate children. We remain fully committed to any and all initiatives, policies and procedures that serve to protect the well-being of the students in our care.