Toronto teacher fired for wearing blackface to school

The teacher who arrived at Toronto’s Parkdale Collegiate wearing blackface has formally been dismissed, TDSB officials confirmed on Wednesday, more than two weeks after the incident took place.

Gorian Surlan, who taught a Grade 9 business class, was immediately put on garden leave pending an investigation after coming to school in blackface on Oct. 29. Today, Toronto District School Board Supt. Debbie Donsky advised the school community that the “staff member in question” is “no longer employed by the Toronto District School Board.”

“I want to thank you for your patience as we moved through this process,” she wrote in her letter. “The investigation is now complete and the appropriate consequences have been applied.”

Donsky said this incident was immediately reported as per the board’s Reporting and Responding to Racism and Hate Incidents Involving or Impacting Students in Schools Procedure.

“As we said in our first letter informing you of this incident, caricatures of peoples’ race or culture are not appropriate and are offensive and hurtful. Regardless of whether this was intended or not, it was racist and dehumanizing,” she said.

“Anti-Black racism, including Blackface, and all forms of discrimination, contravene the school Code of Conduct and multiple TDSB policies and procedures. Staff or students who engage in racist and discriminatory behaviours can face serious consequences.”

Sarah Latha, a parent at Parkdale Collegiate who helped organize the Parkdale Against Racism rally on Nov. 13, said parents are “relieved, but more importantly, Black-identified students can see a glimmer of possibility that their safety and success is taken seriously by the TDSB.”

She said they also “appreciate knowing that the investigation into the other known incident of anti-Black racism is underway, and look forward to details about the TDSB’s investigation into the handling of the incident by the Parkdale CI administration.”

Latha went on to say there is “widespread concern among parents that the demonstrated lack of equity/diversity/inclusion and anti-racism competencies in the administration is directly related to the school climate in which these anti-Black racist incidents occurred.”




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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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