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Toronto District School Board director to step down in November

Colleen Russell-Rawlins
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Colleen Russell-Rawlins will be stepping down from the top staff job at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), she announced Tuesday.

In a news release, the board said that trustees were notified at a special meeting Tuesday that Russell-Rawlins plans to retire from her role as educational director of the TDSB in November.

In its release, the board called her "an accomplished educator with a career that spans more than three decades" including various senior leadership positions at the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, Peel District School Board, and TDSB.

She has also been a teacher, principal and superintendent.

Russell-Rawlins has led Canada's largest school board since August 2021, when she was tasked with leading the TDSB out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"During her tenure at the TDSB, she oversaw the expansion of access to French Immersion, improved access to child care, early years, literacy supports, implemented the Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement, launched the modernization plan for the board’s People and Culture Department and narrowed disproportionate outcomes for many underserved students," the board said in its release. "She recently led the team in creating the TDSB’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan which centers student belonging, achievement, and revitalizing schools, workplaces and processes so every student can thrive."

Her tenure has also overlapped with a number of contentious debates, including masking in schools, cellphone use in classrooms, and behaviour and learning around the Middle East conflict.

In her most recent leadership report last week, Russell-Rawlins praised educators for their efforts "to continue their primary focus on creating and sustaining a positive climate that fosters high achievement and well-being for students."

She called on the board to "come together to protect against the polarity that fuels hatred in order to steadfastly support the achievement and well-being of our students."

The board said it will begin a search process for a new director of education "soon" and said more details will be shared once that process is approved by the board.

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