Colleen Russell-Rawlins to step down as TDSB director in November

Colleen Russell-Rawlins is leaving her senior staff position with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), she announced Tuesday.

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

In its statement, the board called her “an accomplished educator with a career spanning more than three decades,” including several senior leadership positions in 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, and literacy support, implemented the Center of Excellence for Black Student Achievement, and launched the board’s People and Culture modernization plan and reduced disproportionate outcomes for many underserved students,” the board said in its statement. “He recently led the team in creating the TDSB’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan that centers belonging, achievement and revitalization of schools, workplaces and student processes so that all students can thrive.”

His tenure has also overlapped with a number of contentious debates, including the use of masks in schools, the use of mobile phones in classrooms, and behavior 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 maintaining a positive climate that fosters high achievement and well-being for students.”

He called on the board to “come together to guard against the polarity that fuels hate in order to strongly support the achievements and well-being of our students.”

The board said it will begin a search process for a new education director “soon” and said more details will be shared once the board approves the process.

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