PDSB failing to dismantle anti-Black racism

Peel District School Board - HJA Brown Education Centre

Human rights advocate Arleen Huggins was appointed by the Minister of Education in April to investigate the Peel District School Board’s compliance with 27 directions issued by the Minister of Education. The directions aimed at dismantling structures within the PDSB that perpetuate racism, anti-Black racism, and on reforming culture.

Huggins released her Report stating that “to date, the Board has failed to comply with Directions that can easily be characterized as straight-forward.” Concerns were expressed with respect to the Board’s ability to fulfill Directions 1, 6, 7, 8, 12, and 16. 

Compliance with Direction 1 requires all “12 Trustees, the Director and the Associate Directors, to engage in mediation and demonstrate the collective capacity to… provide effective leadership and oversee the PDSB’s compliance with other Directions.” Trustees Kathy McDonald and Nokha Dakroub quickly withdrew their participation in the mediation, Dakroub stating that “there was ‘insufficient appetite’ at the Board to address the issues raised in the Report, including engaging with the PDSB’s Black communities and addressing anti-Black racism.” 

Direction 8 required “the Board to retain an expert to conduct an appraisal of the Director’s performance, specifically including his performance in relation to addressing anti-Black racism, Islamophobia and other equity issues.” It took five weeks to inform the selected expert. When inquired about the delay, Huggin writes that the Chair responded that “he had other priorities.”

Direction 16 required the Board to develop an “Anti-Racism” policy in consultation with PDSB communities and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), and on April 17th a consultation plan was due to the Minister. Instead “a plan to develop a consultation plan” was submitted.

Residents are left to question whether the Peel District School Board is being sincere in their efforts to reform or whether they want residents to think that they are. Stephen Lecce, the Minister of Education in Ontario summarized the current state of the board saying that ” the PDSB lacks the capacity to provide good governance in the interests of all students of the board and to effectively carry out its responsibilities to oversee and ensure proper compliance with my directions.”

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