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Peel board ends contract with integrity commissioner
May 14, 2020
Kristin Rushowy

The Peel public board says it has “ended its contract” with its in-house integrity commissioner.

“As this is a confidential, contractual matter, the board will not be commenting further on its decision,” said a written statement the board released Wednesday.

The Peel District School Board, under strict deadlines to meet directives issued by Education Minister Stephen Lecce, said it has suspended its complaint process “pertaining to trustees’ code of conduct” and is in the process of hiring an additional integrity commissioner as requested.

Code of conduct complaints are heard by the integrity commissioner.

Late last year, a team review ordered by Lecce uncovered numerous incidents of racism and equity concerns, as well as dysfunction among trustees and with staff.

That three-person team came in after few high-profile incidents, including a trustee who referred to the diverse McCrimmon middle school as “McCriminal” and after the senior administrator in charge of anti-discrimination filed a human rights case.

Their report, completed in March, found that Black students are less likely to be enrolled in academic classes, are suspended at higher rates -- often for things like “wearing a hoodie” -- and are discouraged from pursuing post-secondary studies. They also found a lack of diversity in staff at the board, which serves Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

Lecce then issued 27 directives to the board, with specific timelines, but when he felt those weren’t being followed, he sent in a third-party investigator, lawyer Arleen Huggins, in late April.

“I will not idle or allow this process to (drag) on” after years of inaction at the second-largest board in the province,” Lecce told the Star at the time.

Huggins’ report on the board’s compliance is due next week.

One of the 27 directives originally issued by Lecce said “until the minister is satisfied that the board is able to work together and with the director of education and associate directors to provide good governance, the board shall suspend all complaints, whether formal or informal, pertaining to the code of conduct for members of the Peel District School Board, including any and all open investigations and any and all reports that are yet to be considered by the members of the board.”

The board was not specifically directed to end the contract of the current integrity commissioner.