NEWS Jul 16, 2020
Colleen Russell-Rawlins is the Peel District School Board’s new permanent interim director of education. – TDSB photo
The supervisor appointed by the province to oversee the Peel District School Board has appointed a new director of education.
Colleen Russell-Rawlins will take over as the Peel board’s permanent interim director of education.
Russell-Rawlins, who is currently an associate director of equity, well-being, early years and school improvement with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), will assume the role on Aug. 5.
“We are confident that Ms. Russell-Rawlins possesses all the necessary attributes to move the Peel board forward,” said supervisor Bruce Rodrigues.
Russell-Rawlins will replace Peter Joshua, who Rodrigues removed shortly after the province appointed him as supervisor at the end of June.
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce appointed the supervisor to try to get the board on track and undertake the necessary actions to eliminate the practices and policies underpinning discrimination and inequities.
Reports on the Peel board found “painful accounts of traumatic experiences in schools and school communities” and noted that Black students are suspended at higher rates – sometimes for things such as wearing a hoodie – and discouraged from taking academic courses or going to university.
“She brings with her a strong commitment to student learning and success, (and) an exceptional background in addressing issues of anti-Black, African and Caribbean racism, anti-oppression and equity. We are delighted to have her and look forward to working with her,” said Rodrigues.
Over her 29-year career, Russell-Rawlins has held a variety of roles in education, including teacher, principal, consultant and superintendent.
“I am honoured to serve as the interim director of the Peel board at this pivotal point in its efforts to achieve racial equity and dismantle anti-Black racism. I look forward to learning from and with the Peel community in pursuit of these goals and improving all other aspects of education,” said Russell-Rawlins.
“Whether we work or send our children to schools in the Peel board, we all have an important role to play in student success. We all share in the leadership, the responsibility and accountability for creating the conditions where all of our children, regardless of their identity, can thrive.”
As an associate director, her team has responsibility for several aspects of the TDSB’s Multi-Year Strategic Action Plans focused on ending various forms of streaming by improving early literacy and improving access to academic pathways, in addition to responsibilities for professional learning in equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression.
Recently, Russell-Rawlins developed a proposal to establish the Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement in the TDSB, the first of its kind in Canada.
Russell-Rawlins has worked with the Parent Involvement Committee and the Black Student Achievement Community Advisory Committee, where she serves as the staff lead.
In 2018, she served as the president of the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association, and most recently was recognized as one of the 100 Accomplished Black Women in Canada in 2020.