Toronto District School Board Trustee Weidong Pei is raising concerns about the board’s association with the KOJO Institute, a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) firm, following the suicide of a principal. Pei is urging the board to suspend all training with the KOJO Institute until an investigation into the principal’s death is completed. Pei also wants the board to issue a fitting remembrance of the principal’s contributions and cooperate with the Ministry of Education’s inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death.
The controversy surrounding the KOJO Institute started on April 26, 2021, when KOJO trainer Kike Ojo-Thompson made remarks during a session organized by the Toronto District School Board, stating that Canada is a “bastion of white supremacy and colonialism.” These remarks angered the principal, who believed they were unfair and disrespectful to all learners. He argued that Canada’s public healthcare system and equal funding for education disproved Ojo-Thompson’s claims. In response, Ojo-Thompson accused the principal of upholding white supremacy.
Following the incident, the principal took sick leave due to workplace harassment but lost his job upon returning six weeks later. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ruled that Ojo-Thompson’s conduct constituted workplace harassment and bullying. The principal subsequently filed a $750,000 lawsuit against the Toronto District School Board, alleging breach of contract, defamation of character, and reprisal by senior administrators. The lawsuit claims that despite the board acknowledging Ojo-Thompson’s intention to cause reputational damage, they terminated the principal’s contract and revoked other contracts he had.
Although the principal did not serve the board with his lawsuit before his death, the Toronto District School Board announced that they had hired the King International Advisory Group to conduct an investigation into the matter. The board expressed their condolences to the principal’s family, friends, and colleagues and made their Employee and Family Assistance Program available for staff in need.
In response to the principal’s death, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce has ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the suicide and the DEI materials used by the Toronto District School Board. Minister Lecce called the situation “serious” and “disturbing” and stressed the need to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
The KOJO Institute and Ojo-Thompson have faced criticism from Sarnia City Councillor Bill Dennis, who participated in one of their DEI training sessions. Dennis described Ojo-Thompson as militant, self-righteous, smug, and condescending. He claimed that the sessions quickly turned into a radical experience, with Ojo-Thompson telling white people they should feel ashamed of themselves. The training, which was supposed to help international students feel welcomed, instead promoted critical race theory.
The controversy surrounding the Toronto District School Board’s association with the KOJO Institute and the subsequent suicide of a principal has prompted calls for intervention and investigations. It remains to be seen how the board and the Ministry of Education will address the concerns raised by Trustee Pei and Minister Lecce.