The rights of Muslim students to have midday Islamic prayer sessions in their public schools trumps Ontario's rules around education, according to a statement from the Toronto District School Board.

After days of silence, TDSB director of education Chris Spence issued the statement late Friday afternoon, saying Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms "supersedes" the Ontario Education Act, and that Toronto's school board has a "responsibility and an obligation" to accommodate students' faith needs.

Public schools, Spence writes, must take "responsible steps to provide accommodation to members of religious groups who state that the Board's operations or requirements interfere with their ability to exercise their religious beliefs and practices."

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