Peel District School Board pursues legal action against Black advocacy groups; legal action dropped; education director no longer with board

Updates: A June 22, 2020 Global News article is entitled: “Peel school board ending litigation against Black advocacy Twitter accounts amid criticism.”

An excerpt reads:

The Peel District School Board says it is ending legal action against Black advocacy Twitter accounts.

The move came hours after the Ontario government appointed a new supervisor to confront racism at the board.

The PDSB’s director, vice-chair, and two other staff members had launched legal action alleging the accounts were engaged in “a campaign of defamation, posting false and misleading statements” and shared confidential information.

The accounts posted rumoured instances of bigotry at PDSB schools and alleged that board members weren’t doing enough to combat anti-Black racism.

A June 23, 2020 CTV article from Canadian Press reads: “Peel school board parts ways with education director after anti-Black racism reports.”

[End of updates]

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A June 20, 2020 Pointer article notes that the Peel District School Board (PDSB) is pursuing legal action against Black advocacy groups in Peel Region.

A June 22, 2020 CBC article is entitled: “Peel school board files legal action against ‘defamatory’ Black-advocacy Twitter accounts: Court documents allege tweets accusing members of racism are false and misleading.”

A previous post about the PDSB is entitled:

Investigation of the Peel District School Board – text of report of May 15, 2020 submitted by Arleen Huggins

2015 Toronto District School Board report comes to mind

I am reminded of a post five years ago at this website regarding the Toronto District School Board:

Toronto District School Board director accused of ‘destructive attacks’ to muzzle critics – July 10, 2015 Globe and Mail

An excerpt from the latter post reads:

A July 10, 2015 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “TDSB director accused of ‘destructive attacks’ to muzzle critics.”

The concluding paragraphs read:

Since Ms. Wilson submitted her report – which documented problems including fears among many employees that their e-mails and telephone calls are monitored – four of the eight senior staffers who reported directly to Ms. Quan have resigned.

Ms. Quan’s treatment of Mr. Goodman, who did not seek re-election last fall, has left some questioning her leadership. ‘She derailed his life for the better part of a year, brought unnecessary angst and heartache, and now it’s found groundless – and she’s director of education for a school board?’ said John Campbell, a former board chair and now a Toronto city councillor. ‘She doesn’t belong in that job.’

To access previous posts about the Toronto District School Board, click here.

A recent post offers reflections about underlying issues related to both the PDSB and TDSB:

School boards have a level of dysfunction built into them, for which reason, every few years, they get taken over

Of related interest is a post from five years ago entitled:

Conclusion from the Jan. 15, 2015 Review of the Toronto District School Board worth a close read

An excerpt from the above-noted post reads:

Conclusion and recommendations of the Jan. 15, 2015 Review of the Toronto District School Board by Margaret Wilson:

In conclusion, I wish to thank all those who willingly assisted me in this review. The road to 5050 Yonge Street is paved with good intentions on the part of those who work there. But in conducting the review, I was deeply disturbed by the acute level of distress which was apparent among many of the professionals who spoke with me. I have not included in this report all the evidence I found of the culture of fear: It would be too easy to identify some of the individuals who gave me information. Many staff members feared that they would be fired if they could be identified through what I wrote. Some were in tears.

Several senior staff, in mid-career, were concerned that their professional reputations would be damaged because of their association with the TDSB. Yet invariably, they were proud of the work they were doing in support of the Board’s students. They deserve better than a culture of fear. It remains questionable whether the trustees and senior administration can pull together as a whole. The present level of cooperation is so poor, and so hampered by institutional habits and structures, that the effects go beyond undermining public confidence: They also undermine the Board’s focus on student achievement and well-being. The Minister’s concerns were justified.

Recommendations from Jan. 15, 2015 Review of the Toronto District School Board

I recommend that the Minister immediately direct the Board to:

1. Reform its promotion procedures and policies for all levels of staff (with the exception of the Director of Education) so as to remove individual trustees from decision making. The reformed policies should be consistent with the ministry’s Operational Review Guide for Ontario District School Boards, 4th edition (September 2010).

2. Develop and implement a professionally sound policy for the performance appraisal of the Director of Education.

3. Develop and implement a policy clearly delineating the governance role of the Board of Trustees, the responsibilities of the Chair and committees and the day- to-day operational role of the staff.

4. Revise the terms of reference of all committees, including advisory committees, to be consistent with the governance role of the Board. The terms of reference should ensure that the roles and limits of committees are clear and that any staff supporting them are assigned by, and report to, appropriate Board staff.

5. Bring its trustee perquisites and privileges and costs thereof into conformity with those of the other large boards in the Greater Toronto Area.

6. Develop procedures which ensure better Audit Committee oversight of international and non-core projects and partnerships with outside organizations, and direct the current TDSB Audit Committee to review, and provide to the Board of Trustees, the contracts, transactions and documents related to the Confucius Institute, the relationship with the school in Vietnam, the Neo City Café litigation and contract and the Central Tech litigation and legal costs.

7. Limit trustee participation in the Audit Committee to members of the committee and those trustees invited to the committee for specific agenda items.

8. Present a three-year plan for the effective and responsible stewardship of the Board’s capital assets to support the delivery of appropriate education programs to students. This must include a detailed work plan on how to significantly reduce unused spaces and address the condition of existing school facilities.

9. Amend the director’s contract to comply with the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010 and respect the advice provided by the Minister in January 2014 and December 2014.

I also recommend that the Minister:

10. Assign a committee of three to five advisors to make recommendations on governance and electoral representation options for the Board. The consultation should examine the possibility of structural and procedural changes to address the culture of fear, and governance structures to enable trustees to focus on broader policy issues in balance with responsiveness to local concerns.

The committee should consult at a high level with representatives of the Board, the senior staff, the employee unions, parent organizations, the City of Toronto, Toronto-based universities and colleges and representatives of the business community. The committee should consult a cross-section of public school supporters to assess their support for the current governance and electoral structure of the Board and any alternative structures which might better support student achievement and well-being.

An additional excerpt from the above-noted 2015 post reads:

Climate of fear

You can access the full review here:

Review of the Toronto District School Board

You can access part of a previous TDSB report, the Falconer Report on School Safety, here.

The Falconer report warrants a close read in the context of the “climate of fear” narrative as it relates to trustees and senior management in the Jan. 15, 2015 review.

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