Mississauga, Brampton trustees return to power after province took over governance due to systemic racism concerns

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Published January 24, 2023 at 10:17 am

peel district school board supervision

After more than two years under provincially appointed supervision, the elected Peel District School Board (PDSB) trustees finally return to power.

The supervisor was appointed amid concerns over racism and a lack of meaningful action from the board to address systemic issues.

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In June 2020, the board asked for a supervisor to come until at least the end of that year to help. In an unprecedented move, Education Minister Stephen Lecce appointed Bruce Rodrigues, a Chancellor of the University of St. Jerome’s at the University of Waterloo, as supervisor.

But one year later, the board felt they could return to governing power and nine of the 12 trustees wrote an open letter calling for a return to control of the board.

Many felt the continuing supervision was undemocratic.

“I personally think the supervision should have ended a long time ago,” David Green, trustee for Brampton Wards 1 and 5 told insauga.com last year. “I feel that we’re living in a communist country.”

Now, finally, power is returning to the board, newly elected in 2022, for the first meeting of 2023 on Wednesday (Jan. 25), the school board announced on their website.

In a letter to Lecce, Rodrigues says he is leaving the board “more capable, focused and responsive” to students and communities.

“I am confident that the changes I have made to the senior administration team will help to ensure that the necessary leadership, policies, and practices are in place to allow the board to better serve students and families,” Rodrigues writes.

“These changes will also ensure that staff at all levels of the board have work environments that are respectful, fair, inclusive, and better represent the communities served by the PDSB.”

Rodrigues lists the progress made since he was appointed supervisor. Here is the progress on some of the 27 directions:

  • Conflict Resolution – the Board retained an independent mediator and conflict resolution expert, Kim Bernhardt in 2020 but there is hope the new board will be more collaborative.
  • Hiring – members no longer participate in the hiring, promotion, and appointment, including for temporary or acting positions, of any employee of the Board with the sole exception of the Director of Education.
  • Hire an Integrity Commissioner – Law firm of Parker Sim was appointed as the board’s Integrity Commissioner; confirmed in a report to the board on Jan. 25, 2021.
  • Hire a full-time parliamentarian/governance official – A permanent Governance Officer was hired in November 2021. The revised code of conduct and complaint protocol is currently with the Integrity Commissioner for review and plans are to have it ready for approval by the new board.
  • Develop policies, guidelines, and interpretations with the aim of eliminating suspensions and expulsions of students from JK to Grade 3 – Under the revised policy, principals are required to notify their superintendent when considering a suspension or expulsion.
  • Identify and eliminate racialized disparities in suspensions, exclusions, and expulsions of PDSB students – Final report will be submitted in February 2023.

The complete list of progress made on all 27 directions can be found here.

The board meeting on Jan. 25 starts at 6:30 p.m. and can be live-streamed here.

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