BY ALEX GREGORY
A local advocate for issues affecting minorities in Peel has received an apology from the Peel District School Board (PDSB) in connection with a trespassing notice served to him earlier this summer. Community leader Idris Orughu, who has been a noted speaker at school board meetings, received the note of apology in connection with a notice served to him in March, which banned him from PDSB properties and alleged that he harassed board members.
“The issuing of the notice of trespass and contacting the Peel Regional Police were acts of discrimination and antiBlack racism,” PDSB’s notice, which was written by newlyappointed board supervisor Bruce Rodrigues on Sep. 23, stated. “The Peel District School Board recognizes and apologizes on behalf of senior leadership for the impact of that trespass letter on Mr. Orughu’s advocacy efforts to change education policies that perpetuate anti-Black racism and oppressive practices.”
The original notice of trespass alleged that Orughu had made “threatening comments to members of the board” at their Feb. 25 meeting, as well as “disrespectful communication with board members” at a meeting held two weeks earlier. Despite the notice, which was reportedly served by a trustee who felt threatened, Orughu stated that he was unaware of the allegations and wasn’t charged with any crime by Peel Police at the time. The trespassing notice was one of several incidents related to inequality and systemic racism within the Peel school system that led the province to initiate an investigation into the matter, via appointing an investigator to conduct a thorough review of the PDSB and laying out a series of binding directives. The report, which was released by investigator Arleen Huggins in June, would go on to accuse the PDSB of being unable to meet its binding directives and acting in a “dysfunctional” matter.
The fallout over the report led to Director of Education Peter Joshua being removed from his position and replaced by Colleen Russell- Rawlins on a temporary basis until a permanent replacement is hired. Earlier this summer, Orughu spoke to Asia Metro during a march in Brampton to highlight the issue of antiBlack racism within the Peel school system, alongside hundreds of marchers. “We are expecting that we will shed some more light into the issues impacting the black community and racialized community in Peel, in Ontario and in Canada,” said Orughu during the march, which took place on June 17.
“We now have the review by the Minister of Education on issues regarding the Peel District School Board, and we just had the investigation report come out… all of this (has) supported all what we have been fighting for, that young black children have been marginalized and that the racial divide within the school system is impacting young lives.”