Trustee makes an upsetting remark about local school

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On October 10, 2019, community members came together at the regular meeting of the Peel District School Board (PDSB), to voice concerns about a trustee’s comment referring to McCrimmon Middle School in Brampton as “McCriminal.”

This matter is before the independent office of the Integrity Commissioner for the PDSB, the office that is responsible for addressing any and all matters related to the Code of Conduct and Complaint Protocol issues.

“We acknowledge the truly negative impact that this situation has caused to members of the McCrimmon community, including students, families and staff, and to the broader Black community. I cannot, and do not, speak for the Board of Trustees, but I know they will agree that there is no place in our schools and worksites for anti-Black racism,” said Peter Joshua, director of education.

“Although it remains deeply entrenched in institutions, this doesn’t mean that we ignore it and walk away. We mustn’t treat it as invisible. Through our policies, beliefs and values, the Peel District School Board condemns anti-Black racism.”

Joshua explains that after the meeting, they did not issue a public statement in order to “wait for the Integrity Commissioner’s office to finish their work.”

However, the staff at McCrimmon Middle School were in fact notified of the trustee’s comment at the staff meeting on October 11, 2019.

The decision to hold off on a statement was also made in hopes of minimizing any trauma to students, staff and families at the school.

“What we have learned, and what we know now, is that not issuing a statement resulted in members of our community, especially members of the Black community, feeling unsupported and abandoned,” said Joshua.

“We should have reflected on the impact through an anti-oppression lens and consulted with the community to determine what they needed--and still need--to address the trauma they are experiencing. For this, we apologize.”

The PDSB was ready to provide help and support where needed, through its social work and climate teams.

“While we have legal responsibilities to ensure all students and staff are free from discrimination in all its forms, we also have a moral obligation. We recognize the severity of the hurt and harm that this reference has caused for members of the Black community, both those who live in Peel and others who live outside of Peel,” added Joshua.

Over the next few weeks, Joshua explains that they will obtain input from staff and those who are members of Peel’s Association of African Canadian Educators (PAACE). They will also seek opinions from parents and community members on the board’s We Rise Together Community Advisory Council.

This will help to determine how they can further expand opportunities for both Trustees and staff in order to become engaged in conversations about discrimination with the community.

They will also be reviewing and enhancing the work they do to address bias and anti-Black racism in both Peel schools and work sites.

“There are gaps that we must address, and we are prepared to partner with the Black community to review our existing We Rise Together action plan and to take any necessary next steps,” added Joshua.

“All students and staff have the right to learn and work in places where they feel safe, welcomed and included.”

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