Black students at Mississauga and Brampton schools suspended at a much higher rate than their peers: report


Published January 4, 2022 at 1:19 pm

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Black students in Mississauga and Brampton are being suspended at a much higher rate than their peers, and some reasons for discipline include wearing hoodies and hoop earrings.

In its most recent update on student discipline reform, the Peel District School Board (PDSB) found that while Black children make up just over 10 per cent of the student population they account for some 22.5 per cent of suspensions.

The report also notes that 78% of secondary student suspensions and 40% elementary school suspensions did not have Ministry assigned codes and were in the “Other” category.

Some of the suspensions were reportedly handed down for wearing hoodies and hoop earrings.

And while there was “very little evidence to show that suspensions act as a deterrent to misconduct,” the report said that even one suspension can have a harmful impact on students.

“Suspensions often lead to disengagement from school, missed academic content, lowered achievement, stigmatization of students, students’ sense of unbelonging and, particularly for Black children, the school–to–prison nexus,” the report said.

The update is part of the Ministry of Education’s Directive #21 on student discipline and found Black and Indigenous students in Mississauga and Brampton are being suspended disproportionately.

The board said it is committed to “dismantling systemic discrimination,” including anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, and ableism.

The report states the board has made progress on the Ministry’s Directive # 21 mandates, including establishing a mandatory training program for all new, current and prospective principals “that emphasizes the principles of procedural fairness and is delivered through the lens of human rights as they apply to children and youth.”

The board said it has done away with suspensions and expulsions for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3, and has expunged all records of suspensions and expulsions for all students who received a suspension in those grades.

A Student Discipline Steering Committee is also working to address systemic discrimination in the student disciplinary processes and “identify practices that require interruption, intervention, and new learning.”

“It is critical that the Board creates the conditions, the policies, and operating procedures necessary to eliminate the disparities and disproportionalities in student discipline and that the Board holds itself and all administrators accountable to that end,” the report sates.

The report stated that alternative approaches to suspension are being incorporated into professional learning around student discipline.

The board said it is in the process of hiring a Restorative Justice Resource Teacher who will report to the Coordinating Principal of Caring and Safe Schools.

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