PDSB seeking help to fix disciplinary systems that continue to disproportionately harm Black and Indigenous students
(Redd F/Unsplash)

PDSB seeking help to fix disciplinary systems that continue to disproportionately harm Black and Indigenous students

The Peel District School Board (PDSB) is looking for community participation in a new committee to help address a critical directive mandated by the Ministry of Education to fix racial disproportionalities within the board’s disciplinary systems that are seeing Black and Indigenous students facing suspension and expulsion at twice the rate of their representation within the student body.

The Ministry of Education handed down 27 directives in 2020 after it was forced to take over governance of the board following repeated failures to address the systemic anti-Black racism and other forms of discrimination plaguing students. The provincial intervention followed years of advocacy from students and families who repeatedly pushed for change within the board.  Taken together, the directives provide a roadmap for the board to eliminate its systemic discrimination and practices of anti-Black racism. 


In 2020, the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce issued 27 binding directives to the PDSB in response to evidence of systemic anti-Black racism and other issues.

(Government of Ontario)


All 27 provincially mandated directives were submitted to the Ministry of Education at the end of the 2022-2023 school year, though the board must continue to keep up with its mandates. As recently reported by The Pointer, the PDSB continues to suspend and expel its Black and Indigenous students at two times the rate compared to their overall representation in the student body. Black students at the PDSB are being suspended at the same rate as in the 2019-2020 academic year which is when the Province first issued its binding directives. 

A report to the Curriculum, Equity and Student Well-Being Committee providing a semi-annual update on Suspension, Expulsion and Safe Schools Data, compared the September to December period of the 2022 and 2023 school years. The data show overall suspensions increased in elementary schools from 157 in the 2022 period to 249 in 2023. For secondary schools, suspensions went from 511 in the 2022 period to 622 in 2023. 


Table depicting suspensions in elementary and secondary schools from September to December 2022 compared to September to December 2023.

(Peel District School Board)


“For PDSB to be successful in addressing the mandates of the Directive, PDSB must collaborate, consult, engage in discussions, and solicit feedback from the community to ensure accountability and to help inform future actions,” a notice on the PDSB website states. The notice announced the PDSB is currently seeking community members to help address these ongoing issues. 

The board is prioritizing participation from members of the Black and Indigenous communities and seeking representation from each of the three municipalities making up Peel Region. Participation is voluntary and uncompensated, with plans for the committee to meet “6 times per year for 2 hours at a time.” The first of these meetings is tentatively scheduled for March 6, with the post stating that “[c]ommittee members and members at large are invited to participate.” 

When it comes to Black students, the Minister’s appointed reviewers heard from community members over four years ago that “some teachers use any excuse to exclude Black students from the classroom and some principals use any excuse to suspend Black students from schools.” The PDSB was suspending them for wearing hoodies, hoop earrings and doo rags, but non-Black students did not face similar discipline. 

The Directive 22 progress report brought to the Board recently shows there has been a reduction in the trend of suspending and expelling Black and Indigenous students, but the situation overall has not improved since the Ministry got involved, with disproportionalities continuing to exist in PDSB. It reported that disproportionalities decreased marginally for Indigenous students, but for Black students, the disproportionality actually increased in the fall of 2023. Both groups are 2.2 times more likely to be suspended or expelled compared to their overall representation in the student body.

During its February 13 board meeting Trustee Jill Promoli said that while suspensions and expulsions should be handed out “when appropriate” she was concerned to see the rate at which they were increasing. It suggests the PDSB is “having greater challenges right now,” she said. 

Michelle Stubbings, Superintendent of Education, said eliminating the disparity for Black and Indigenous students is a collective responsibility of the entire board.

The deadline for expressions of interest for the Directive 21 Committee is February 22. 



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