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Peel District School Board director removed from post amid appointment of provincial supervisor

Click to play video: 'PDSB takes legal action targeting Twitter users'
PDSB takes legal action targeting Twitter users
WATCH ABOVE: Peel District School Board’s director and vice-chair have taken legal action to try and uncover the people behind Twitter accounts that have been highlighting rumoured instances of racism at the schools. Kamil Karamali reports – Jun 21, 2020

The director of the Peel District School Board (PDSB) has been removed from his position after an Ontario Ministry of Education supervisor was appointed to address allegations of systemic and anti-Black racism.

“Effective immediately, director of education Peter Joshua is no longer with the Peel District School Board,” a brief statement on the PDSB website said on Tuesday.

“An interim director of education will be named by ministry supervisor Bruce Rodrigues in the days ahead.​”

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The news came a day after Rodrigues assumed his position as supervisor. On Wednesday, PDSB trustees unanimously passed a motion calling on Education Minister Stephen Lecce to appoint a supervisor.

“Anti-Black racism is a real and continuing problem in the Peel District School Board that requires not just urgent action, but a united sense of purpose at the board that is currently lacking,” the motion said.

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“Action in tackling the anti-Black racism and other forms of hate and discrimination must occur at the same time the Peel District School Board prepares for the expected return of students in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic which itself promises an unprecedented organizational challenge.”

Two recent reports found there was widespread anti-Black racism in the board, including one that showed a lack of action by administrators.

The second report, by a human rights advocate, found that while Black students make up 10.2 per cent of the secondary school population, they account for about 22.5 per cent of students receiving suspensions, in some cases for wearing hoodies or hoop earrings.

During an unrelated news conference Tuesday afternoon, Lecce addressed the decision.

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“Today the [supervisor] has taken action … to find new leadership for the board, for Peel Region, to really re-inspire these kids, to change the culture of that community and to do better for racialized children — for all children in that community — that have for too long felt isolated and discriminated against,” he said.

In a statement to Global News, Joshua said he was told Tuesday morning that his employment would be terminated “effective immediately.”

“I am personally devastated by this turn of events. I need time to consider what has happened and so I will not comment further on the actions that were taken by Mr. Rodrigues and Mr. Lecce,” he wrote.

“I leave my role as the Board’s Director knowing that I worked tirelessly and with utmost good faith, along with other senior staff, to address the difficult issue of discrimination and racism, including anti-Black racism, in the board’s schools and across the system.”

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Joshua said “much of the foundational work to address these issues has been completed” to allow Rodrigues to proceed with his work.

“After more than 30 years as an educator, I remain dedicated to doing what I can to ensure that our public education system gives every child, regardless of background or circumstances, the opportunity to succeed in school and in life,” he said.

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“I wish nothing but the best to the students of the Peel District School Board.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

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