Supervisor appointed to Peel District School Board to confront racism

ONTARIO’S Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, on Monday issued the following statement on the appointment of Bruce Rodrigues to supervise the Peel District School Board (PDSB):

“We expect all schools and classrooms in the province to be safe and inclusive. For far too long, this has not been the case at the Peel District School Board. From day one, I said that if the PDSB does not act swiftly and completely to counter racism and positively change the culture within our schools, then the government will act. For a generation, students have felt ignored, powerless, and disrespected.

“This ends starting today.

“The appointment of a Supervisor will allow the PDSB to get back on track and undertake the necessary actions to eliminate the practices and policies underpinning discrimination and inequities. 

“Mr. Rodrigues brings a wealth of experience to this appointment, including leading systemic change as Director of Education of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) and as Chief Executive Officer of the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). Mr. Rodrigues has an outstanding track record in Ontario’s publicly funded education system with commitment and passion to drive change, confront discrimination, and advance equity, inclusion and opportunity for all students. He has put students of all abilities at the heart of his work and public service.

“With the assistance of Mr. Rodrigues’ supervision, I know that the Peel District School Board will have the leadership and necessary management structure in place to ensure the learning and working environments are welcoming, inclusive, and respectful for students and staff. We know there is more to do – provincewide – which is why we will continue to work to confront racism, including anti-Black racism, in all Ontario schools across our province.Ontario’s children deserve nothing less.” 

Quick Facts:

  • The decision to appoint a Supervisor was made following the minister’s directive to send in reviewers and an investigator, which produced two reports on widespread racism in the PDSB. The formal reviewers’ report and an investigation report outline the PDSB’s inadequate response, lack of action, and commitment to fully counter anti-Black racism, and discrimination against other minority communities and broader equity imperatives.
  • As Superintendent and later Associate Director of Education for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, Rodrigues unveiled equity programs for racialized and LGBTQ students. As a math teacher, Rodrigues started the development of equity building curriculum and continues to this day supporting culturally relevant and responsive curriculum and pedagogy. He also served as Deputy Minister of Education and Early Learning and Child Care for the Province of Ontario between 2016 – 2018, where he instituted the Education Equity Secretariat within the Ministry of Education.
  • On November 27, 2019, the Minister of Education directed an expedited review of the PDSB to address serious concerns about anti-Black racism and systemic inequities, leadership and governance dysfunction, and unfair human resources practices within the board.
  • The Review Team conducted an extensive consultation between December 2019 and February 2020 which included interviews, community and student consultation sessions, and written submissions.
  • Based on the Reviewers’ Report and Recommendations, the minister issued 27 binding directions to the PDSB on March 13, 2020.
  • On April 27, 2020 the Minister of Education appointed Arleen Huggins to conduct an investigation of the PDSB to examine the Board’s compliance with the minister’s binding directions issued on March 13, 2020.
  • Huggins submitted her report to the minister on May 18, 2020. The Minister then provided the PDSB with one final directive, with a deadline of June 22, 2020.
  • Under the Education Act, section 230, the minister must follow the timelines and steps outlined in the Act. The minister may give directions to the PDSB to address any evidence of non-compliance or potential non-compliance disclosed in the investigator’s report.