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Minister Appoints Investigator to Examine Peel District School Board

Photo: Arleen Huggins

Government Takes Further Action to Drive Accountability and Confront Racism

TORONTO – Today, Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced he has appointed Arleen Huggins to conduct an investigation into the Peel District School Board’s compliance with the Minister’s binding Directions to the Board issued on March 13, 2020.

“We expect our school leaders – trustees, senior administration, and educators – to ensure all students are learning in safe and inclusive classrooms,” said Minister Lecce. “This is why effective, transparent, and accountable school board governance is essential to the success and well-being of students in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.”

Ms. Huggins is a practising lawyer with thirty years experience in employment law, human rights law, workplace harassment and discrimination investigations and commercial litigation. She is a former President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and a Former Chair of both the Canadian Bar Association Standing Committee on Equity and the Ontario Bar Association Equal Opportunity Committee.  Ms. Huggins was also on the founding Board of the African Canadian Legal Clinic and has served on the Doctors Without Borders Human Resources Committee and the federal Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) for the GTA.

With the issuance of 27 binding Directions to the Board on March 13, 2020, the Minister provided clear direction with specific timelines and deliverables to address systemic discrimination, particularly anti-Black racism, as well as dysfunctional governance, leadership and human resources practices within the PDSB.

“When it comes to confronting racism and discrimination, I will not accept delay or inaction,” added Minister Lecce. “The message I am sending is — do better. Our kids deserve better. And I will do whatever it takes to ensure these issues are addressed immediately and effectively.”

The Ontario Government is committed to ensuring PDSB complies with the Minister’s binding Directions so that parents, students and the community get the positive change that they need and deserve.

Ms. Huggins will deliver her report to the Minister on or before May 18, 2020.

Quick Facts

  • Last fall the government launched a review of PDSB to ensure an effective board governance that promotes equity, increases accountability, transparency and safeguards the success and well-being of all students.
  • The Minister is directing this investigation pursuant to the authority under section 230 of the Education Act, as a result of concerns that the PDSB has contravened his binding Direction that all members of the Board, the Director of Education, and Associate Directors of Education undertake mandatory mediation (Direction 1).
  • Direction 1 further requires the PDSB to satisfy the Minister of Education that the Board can work together with the Director and Associate Directors of Education to provide good governance in the interests of all students of the PDSB.
  • The Ministry has concerns about the PDSB’s ability to provide good governance and that the lack of co-operation among the members of the board, and with and among the senior leadership team, might result in a contravention of other Ministerial directions, specifically:
    • Direction 6 (mandatory trustee learning plan)
    • Direction 7 (composition of Board committees)
    • Direction 8 (Director’s performance appraisal)
    • Direction 12 (Human Rights Commissioner’s independence of office)
    • Direction 16 (Board anti-racism policy)
  • The PDSB is responsible for 257 schools in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, and over 155,000 students representing a rich array of racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds.

Additional Resources

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