An interim report examining allegations of systemic racism in the Peel District School Board (PDSB) has uncovered accounts of traumatic experiences in schools and school communities. The findings conclude that systemic and historical disparities exist between and across racial, ethnic and cultural groups.
The review is intended to address concerns about equity, including anti-Black racism, and serious issues related to governance, leadership and human resources practices in the board.
The review comes after PDSB trustee Will Davies’ made an off-hand remark that contained the word ‘McCriminal’ to describe McCrimmon Middle School in Brampton, that was enough to set off a maelstrom of protests. It fuelled a section of long-aggrieved individuals used this as evidence of anti-Black racism.
All this came about after a media report appeared about Poleen Grewal, the associate director of instruction and equity with the PDSB, filing a complaint against the board and its director of education with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. She is accusing them of racism, harassment and diminishing her work while failing to deal with anti-Black racism in schools.
Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, announced that Shawn Richard, a Partner at Lenkinski Law and the former president of the Canadian Black Lawyers Association, would be the third panelist conducting the formal review of the PDSB.
All this must come as a bit of a surprise to other Canadians who know Peel Region to be one of the most diverse places in the country.
The report notes that the PDSB has a highly diverse student population.
According to data from the most recent PDSB census, over 160 ethnic and cultural backgrounds are represented by PDSB secondary students.
The top single racial backgrounds students self-identify with are South Asian (45.3 per cent), White (16.8 per cent), Black (10.2 per cent), Middle Eastern (5.6 per cent) and East Asian (5.4 per cent). Further, 6.7 per cent of secondary students identify with multiple racial backgrounds.
The PDSB has had a Human Rights and Equity Advisor since December 2018.
The report also indicates that people have been eager to speak to reviewers.
In December, reviewers conducted over 30 interviews with individuals and groups in various locations in the Peel Region and Toronto.
The report says that reviewers have received written and oral submissions from many individuals and groups. The panel has also been reviewing various documentation, minutes of board meetings, board policies and data. -CINEWS