April 16, 2020

Peel board works to dismantle systemic discrimination, anti-Black racism to improve success, well-being of students, staff

Work on Minister of Education's directives continues during pandemic closures

On March 13, 2020, the Ministry of Education released its report on the Peel District School Board's Review, which includes 27 directives and timelines for each. At last night's Regular Meeting of the Board, Trustees were presented with an overview of the board's response that outlines tasks, responsibilities, and progress on each of the Minister of Education's directives. As actions are taken, updates will be shared with the community and posted on the board's website.

"The Ministry consultation surfaced serious and deeply concerning accounts of traumatic experiences, especially for members of Peel's Black community, and other racialized and marginalized communities," says Chair of the Board Brad MacDonald. "As the elected chair, I take responsibility for what happened, and for what will happen next. On behalf of the board, I want to apologize again for the trauma and hurt staff, students, families and community members have experienced. We have much to do to continue the remedial work necessary to seek reconciliation so that we can eliminate anti-Black racism, uproot system discrimination and regain trust to improve outcomes for students and staff."

To help ensure expectations for all directives are met, the Board of Trustees and senior leadership will develop an accountability framework to drive and deliver positive change. The Board will seek input on the framework from community members and ensure alignment with the Minister of Education's directives. In addition to this work, accountability measures and responsibilities will also be included in the board's new Annual Equity Accountability Report Card (directive 9). The board's first progress report on this work is due to the Minister of Education by June 1, 2020.

"As we work to support the Peel board community during the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to assure everyone that the Peel board's commitment to equity and inclusion is not on pause. We are being intentional about inclusion, and with care and compassion, we are doing our best to support every learner and every staff member. This includes work we are currently engaged in that flows from the Minister of Education's directives," says Director of Education Peter Joshua. "Our work on the directives has started and is ongoing. There are directives that we must act on immediately and on our own. There are others that must and will include consultation with staff, students, families, committees and community. Given the pandemic-related challenges that prevent us from gathering at this time, we are exploring virtual ways to involve stakeholders in decision-making and our actions moving forward. We remain committed to consulting and to working with the Black community, and other communities, in the days, weeks and months ahead."

At a Supplementary Meeting of the Board on March 24, 2020, the Board of Trustees approved a number of recommendations from the Minister of Education's directives that required action by March 26, 2020. Since then, progress has been made on a number of directives, including:

  • An independent mediator has been retained to help the Board identify, address and resolve dysfunction between and among the members of the board, and between the members of the board and the director and associate directors (directive 1). The mediator will submit an interim report by May 14, 2020, and a final report by June 19, 2020, to the Minister of Education, as directed. Trustees have agreed to take part in the mediation.

  • The board has retained the services of an external parliamentarian/governance expert to establish procedures and practices for effective, respectful and transparent governance (directive 5). The parliamentarian will remain until the Minister of Education approves a progress report from them confirming that the aforementioned practices and procedures are in place. The board will also create a permanent position to carry out the responsibilities of the parliamentarian and to provide professional governance advisory services and support to the board.

  • The board provided direction to all hiring managers to preserve all documentation related to hiring, promotions and temporary appointments moving forward. That direction was sent on March 25, 2020. Directive 25 also calls for the establishment of a centralized applicant tracking and file management system as part of the development of the employment systems review that includes hiring, promotions and acting appointments. By Dec. 31, 2020, the board will submit a progress report on implementation of the tracking and file management system. By Aug. 31, 2021, the board will submit confirmation to the Minister of Education that a tracking system is in place.

  • In light of the harm to the community, particularly to the Black community, the Board of Trustees will issue a responsive and respectful apology shortly.​

Notes Chair MacDonald, "We are taking this report and its directives very seriously, and we want everyone in our community to be assured that we are working diligently to improve board governance and leadership practices. We will do everything we can, in following the Minister of Education's directives, to safeguard the success and well-being of students and staff."

Background

  • After consultations with students, staff, families, Trustees and community members, the Ministry of Education released its final report on the Peel board's review on March 13, 2020. The review, which was announced by the Minister of Education on Nov. 7, 2019, was led by Patrick Case, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ministry's Educational Equity Secretariat. It was conducted by three independent reviewers: Ena Chadha, Suzanne Herbert and Shawn Richard. 
  • A joint statement from Chair of the Board Brad MacDonald and Director of Education Peter Joshua was issued on March 13, 2020.
  • View the Minister of Education's directives here.
  • To follow the Peel board's progress on the Minister of Education's directives, visit the board's website. ​

References

Peter Joshua, Director of Education, [email protected]

Brad MacDonald, Chair of the Board, [email protected]

Subscribe
Find Your School