Police called after racism discussions become heated at Peel District School Board meeting

 

At least two trustees and multiple Brampton and Mississauga residents are furious after police were called to a tense Peel District School Board (PDSB) meeting that became fraught following the rejection of a motion dealing anti-Black racism. 

Brad MacDonald, chair of the PDSB, issued a statement about the controversial meeting on Feb. 26, 2020. MacDonald said that he had to recess and subsequently move the public Feb. 25 meeting into a private session because he was not able to maintain order. 

In an effort to continue with the agenda, I made a decision to move the public meeting into private session,” MacDonald said in a statement. 

Angry chants broke out after MacDonald told Mississauga trustee Nokha Dakroub that her motion, which asked the board to take steps to address the excessive disciplinary measures used on Black and racialized students, was out of order. 

My motion regarding policing in schools was ruled out of order. I did not even get a chance to read it,” Dakroub wrote on Twitter, adding that she and Trustee Kathy McDonald refused to participate in the private meeting. 

According to Dakroub’s motion, trustees have learned of multiple incidents where PDSB children, specifically Black children, were victims of excessive discipline practices that have resulted in “frequent and unnecessary interactions” with the police. 

The motion asked that the board require that in non-emergency situations, school administrators contact parents, guardians or family members prior to contacting police. The motion also asked that in non-emergency situations, school resource officers wait for a parent, guardian or family member to be present prior to investigating, arresting, or handcuffing any student on PDSB property. 

The motion also called on the board to enact a committee that includes two trustees, representation from Peel Regional Police and community members to review the Local Police School Board Protocol and School Resource Officer program in order to ensure equitable and fair practices.

MacDonald said Dakroub’s motion was out of order because the province of Ontario has legislated that the police, in their jurisdiction, can create a police protocol with schools. 

They have this 72-page document which details quite in-depth how that will be accomplished,” MacDonald said at the meeting.

So this is under the jurisdiction of the police and we cannot dictate to them how it be done.” 

MacDonald said that the PDSB has been talking with the police and other organizations and has learned that Peel police will be “reevaluating and revising and looking” at this protocol. 

At that point, an audience member yelled, “stand up for black kids!” 

Fight for black students! Who will stand up for black students?” one woman yelled. 

Trustees are elected officials, what side of history will you stand on?” 

MacDonald repeatedly called for order and opted to take a five-minute recess when audience members, some who were waving placards, refused to stop shouting. 

Criminalizing our students, handcuffing our students,” one woman yelled. 

Some residents were quick to condemn the board’s decision to move the meeting into a private space on social media. 

Tensions rose after the recess when Trustee McDonald refused to attend the private meeting, voicing concerns that board was not acting in the best interests of concerned Black families. 

MacDonald said that during the private session, a trustee indicated that he felt there was a risk to his personal safety given an interaction he had with a member of the public. MacDonald said he directed staff to engage security and call Peel police to ensure that trustees got home safely. 

MacDonald said police officers did not enter the board room until it was vacated, nor did they engage with anyone who attended the public portion of the meeting. 

Given the nature of the concerns raised by trustees, I felt having police attend was necessary. This being said, I appreciate that the presence of police can feel threatening and apologize for any negative impact having them attend has caused,” he said. 

A full audio recording of the meeting can be heard here.

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