Posted on: 6/8/20
The world continues to process the impact and tragic consequences of anti-Black racism. It is unsettling that another death had to occur to serve as the catalyst for widespread societal discussion, action and hopefully, change. Members of the Dufferin-Peel (DPCDSB) community have been engaged in conversations in a wide variety of forums. As part of these conversations, there is a call on systems for accountability and action.
At DPCDSB, an organization of 151 schools, 80,000 students, and 11,000 employees, we are not immune to incidents of anti-Black racism. Where a staff member is involved, it is our practice to thoroughly investigate such incidents. These investigations are conducted by central board staff. Appropriate consequences are dispensed, ranging from anti-Black racism training, to suspension, to reporting to the employee's relevant regulatory body, and, in some cases, termination of employment.
We are prevented from disclosing specific consequences related to an identified staff member, as this would be a breach of confidentiality and privacy legislation. Please be assured, however, that issues related to equity, human rights, and systemic racism are an ongoing matter of concern at all levels of the organization. DPCDSB has been diligently working to identify and address systemic injustices that are embedded within the education system. Examples of this work, some of which is ongoing, include:
- The establishment of Catholic Equity Leads in each school, along with ongoing training.
- Professional Development for staff and investments in learning resources and textbooks in secondary schools to address lack of representation of Black and racialized authors, characters, etc.
- Delivery of anti-Black racism training and awareness sessions for staff, students and trustees.
- Delivery of anti-Black racism training and awareness sessions with Guidance and English department staff members.
- Equity survey – over 9000 students responded.
- Equity focus groups – over 500 students participated.
- Changes to policy and practice to remove barriers as identified by racialized students through the survey and focus groups.
- Involvement with the Black Youth Student Success Initiative (BYSSI).
- Ongoing collection of equity-based data collection related to school climate.
- Creation of resources, guidelines and expectations regarding responding to the N-word in schools, supported by professional development for staff and administrators.
- Participation in the Ministry of Education's Black Graduation Coach pilot program.
Our commitment to this work continues with the support of the senior management team and the Board of Trustees, but we know that commitment is nothing without action. In keeping with our equity initiatives for 2019-2020, DPCDSB will be:
- Providing mandatory anti-Black racism training for staff.
- Continuing anti-Black racism training for administrators, supervisory officers, managers and trustees.
- Implementing a Black Advisory Council for educators.
- Finalizing a student census (2020 pilot, 2021 system-wide roll out)
We come to this work with humility and know that we have much to accomplish. We know the importance of student, staff and community feedback, and we welcome those conversations to build collective action. We are inextricably linked in our humanity, and when one member of our community suffers, we all suffer. We repeat the words of Saint John Paul II who reminds us that:
"Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all."