Council of Canadian Muslims calls for resignations at Peel District School Board

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The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is demanding that the Chair and Director of Education at Peel District School Board (PDSB) resign amid concerns that the board isn't doing enough to address systemic racism and anti-black racism.

In a statement on Friday, June 12, the NCCM called for the immediate resignations of PDSB Chair Brad MacDonald and Director of Education Peter Joshua following the results of a report from lawyer and human rights advocate Arleen Huggins.

On April 28, 2020, Huggins was appointed by Minister of Education Stephen Lecce to investigate the PDSB's compliance with the Minister's binding Directions, which were issued to tackle racism within the PDSB, particularly anti-Black racism.

The report indicates that there's still a high degree of dysfunction plaguing the PDSB and keeping it from fulfilling the directions. 

"Huggins, in her report, wrote that the school board and director’s office is 'lacking both the ability and capacity, and perhaps even more importantly, the will' to address systemic racism and anti-black racism in PDSB," said the NCCM.

"Huggins further noted that non-compliance with the recommendations made in the report from PDSB is 'probable'. That’s shameful."

A few weeks prior, the NCCM had demanded further action regarding alleged Islamophobic remarks by Principal Julie DeMaeyer of Central Peel Secondary School in Brampton, which led the PDSB to agree to instate a Muslim student affairs coordinator and commit to mandating anti-Islamophobia training across the school board.

"The reality is that anti-black racism continues to be pernicious and systemic across PDSB. This cannot go on," the NCCM said. "We are asking, in no uncertain terms, that the Chair and the Director of Education immediately resign."

The NCCM is also calling on residents to contact Education Minister Lecce and express their support for the resignations via a form on the NCCM's website.

Lecce issued a total of 27 Directions to the PDSB on March 13, 2020 to address the issue of anti-Black racism and other forms of racism existing within the school board.

Arleen Huggins is a practicing lawyer with experience in employment law, human rights law, workplace harassment and discrimination investigations, and commercial litigation. She was formerly the President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and a Chair of both the Canadian Bar Association Standing Committee on Equity and the Ontario Bar Association Equal Opportunity Committee.

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