School board settles discrimination case with vice-principal

The Peel District School Board has settled a human rights case with a vice-principal who alleged that systemic discrimination prevented her from being promoted.

The settlement means the case will not go to a full public hearing. An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal hearing for vice-principal Ranjit Kaur Khatkur was scheduled for Dec. 5 to 7. Khatkur alleged that direct discrimination against her and systemic discrimination in general within the board had prevented her from being promoted to principal. Details of the settlement have not been released.

Earlier, the board fought to have the systemic discrimination component dropped from the case. It was unsuccessful and a hearing was set.

But both sides continued working to reach a settlement. Khatkur confirmed that a settlement had been reached late Thursday.

In a statement reelased today by the school board, Director of Education Tony Pontes said, “The board remains fully committed to equity and social justice in all its dealings with staff, students and members of the community.”

Khatkur stated, “I am encouraged with the direction the board is taking in relation to equity and inclusive education issues.”

In her application to the tribunal, Khatkur, who has been a vice principal with the board since 1998, sought a number of remedies to address the alleged systemic discrimination within the Peel board.

They included:
• Collect board statistics based on race.
• Develop equity policies that are inclusive of marginalized groups.
• Review of the hiring, promotion and retention process, including a monitoring committee with representation from visible minority groups.
• Better reflection of visible minorities within senior administration.
• Mandatory training of senior staff, including principals and vice-principal in the area of equity inclusion and challenges facing visible minorities

Lawyers for Khatkur who argued during preliminary hearings that the systemic allegation should be included in the case stated that her race and cultural background played a role in the board’s decision to overlook her for promotion to principal on a number of occasions.

It was noted that in 2007-08, only five of 235 principals — 2 per cent — in the board were South Asian, while close to 30 per cent of Peel Region was South Asian.