Reducing racism in Mississauga, Brampton schools top priority for new education director


Published August 6, 2021 at 12:11 am


The embattled Peel District School Board is welcoming a new director of education.

Former TV Ontario executive Rashmi Swarup is taking the reins of the board, which has been headed by an interim director since being placed under the Ontario Ministry of Education’s supervision last year after a review found evidence of systemic racism at the board. The ministry also accused the board of being dysfunctional and lacking the “will” to tackle anti-Black and systemic racism.

Swarup, who held leadership positions with the York Region and Toronto district school boards prior to becoming vice-president of digital learning and education partnerships for Ontario’s educational broadcaster in 2019, takes over the post Aug. 16.

She replaces outgoing interim director Colleen Russell-Rawlins, who was appointed to the job in July 2020 by the Peel Board’s provincial supervisor, Bruce Rodrigues. She took over from Peter Joshua, who a month earlier was let go by the education ministry.

In making the announcement late on Thursday afternoon, Rodrigues said Swarup brings a wealth of education sector experience to the helm of Ontario’s second-largest school board, which serves more than 153,000 students at 259 schools.

“Transformational and systemic change requires vision, dedication and resolve,” said Rodrigues. “As schools reopen, I’m confident that under Rashmi’s leadership , the Peel Board will continue its work to deliver vital public education, support students in reaching their fullest potential and disrupt and dismantle racism in all its forms within the system.”

Swarup,a former teacher with an extensive background in fighting racism and promoting inclusive learning environments, says she’s looking forward to working with Rodrigues and board trustees to serve students, staff, families and Peel’s communities.

“Leadership for me is about building relationships by listening to all voices and understanding perspectives, and leading with integrity, compassion, transparency and accountability,” said Swarup. “I will continue the work of dismantling all forms of oppression, racism and systemic inequities that impact well-being, achievement and opportunities for all of our students and families, especially Indigenous, Black and racialized students.”

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