Lecce Issues Directions To Drive Change And Fight Discrimination In Peel

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Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce prepares for a speech in Toronto on Wednesday February 12, 2020 . File: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO:  Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, has released the final report on the Peel District School Board (PDSB) review.

The Minister has responded to the findings of the review by issuing ministerial directions to PDSB aimed at addressing the systemic discrimination, specifically anti-Black racism; human resources practices; board leadership and governance issues. The Ontario Government will consider this report, its recommendations and the resulting ministerial directions as it works to develop a broader province-wide strategy.

“The accounts of systemic racism and discrimination documented in the report are deeply troubling and will not be tolerated,” said Minister Lecce. “After decades of inaction, I want to see swift implementation of my directions to drive the necessary and positive change that students deserve. Students and the community have demanded change and I want to assure them that we will monitor Board implementation of the directions and hold them to account to deliver transformational change that will put every student on a path to success.”

In November 2019, the Minister of Education announced a review of the PDSB following a request from the former Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees for assistance and intervention.

The Minister later appointed Shawn Richards, Sue Herbert and Ena Chadha to conduct a review and provide recommendations. The final report released today follows the interim report, which was released in January 2020.

“It is clear that immediate and robust action is needed,” said Jamil Jivani, Ontario’s Advocate for Community Opportunities. “Today’s announcement by the Minister is an important step toward building a public school system that gives each child — regardless of race, background, or postal code — a fair start in life.”

The final report outlines the Reviewers’ observations and recommendations, while the ministerial directions include deliverables, timelines and expectations to ensure parents and community members can track progress and hold PDSB officials to account. 

With the announcement of 27 new ministerial directions, the Government of Ontario is positioning the PDSB to immediately strengthen its governance and leadership practices to focus its attention on ensuring that all PDSB students can realize their full potential in classrooms and schools where they are supported, respected, valued and welcomed.

• From December 2019 to February 2020, the reviewers heard from over 300 individuals in various locations in Peel and Toronto and considered over 160 written submissions.

• The PDSB is responsible for 257 schools in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, and over 155,000 students representing a rich array of racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds and sexual orientations.

• 83% of PDSB secondary students are racialized with more than 160 ethnic and cultural backgrounds and 110 languages spoken at home. Just under 10% of secondary students self-identify as 2SLGBTQ+.

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