This week, the friends and family of a school principal in Toronto gathered to celebrate his life. Richard Bilkszto, sadly, took his life last month, at the age of 60, and much of the reporting on his death has focused on a DEI training and the lawsuit that he launched about it.
A reminder to listeners that the claims you will hear have not been proven in court.
My guest today is a reporter whose story on Richard Bilkszto has gained international attention — and our conversation grapples with a number of difficult issues, including suicide and how it’s covered in the media.
Rupa Subramanya is a staff writer at The Free Press.
Rupa Subramanya is my guest, today on Lean Out. Transcript to come for paid subscribers.
Lean Out reached out to Kike Ojo-Thompson to request comment, and to invite her on the program. We have not yet heard back. But Kike Ojo-Thompson did release a statement to the media, which reads, in part: “The death of Richard Bilkszto is a tragedy and all of us at KOJO Institute offer our condolences to his loved ones.” It adds: “The allegations made against me and KOJO Institute within Mr. Bilkszto’s lawsuit against the Toronto District School Board are false, and we are not a party to the lawsuit.” You can read KOJO’s full statement here.
We also reached out to Education Minister Stephen Lecce and his office for comment, but did not hear back. In addition, we contacted the Toronto District School Board for comment. It referred us to its two previous press statements, the first of which reads, in part: “The Board would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and colleagues of Richard Bilkszto. Richard was a strong advocate for students, particularly for those in adult and alternative education. Throughout his over 24 years in education, he worked hard to create an environment that fostered student success for students of all ages.” The second statement reads, in part: “Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragic passing of Richard Bilkszto, retaining King International Advisory Group, an experienced and well-respected investigative firm with multi-disciplinary expertise in conducting thorough investigations. Our intention is for this investigation to be conducted in a professional, sensitive and respectful manner.” You can read those statements in full here and here.
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