News that the Peel District School Board will no longer permit delegations on the disputable issue of accommodating Friday prayer for Muslim students was not welcomed.
Seat Janet McDougald made the declaration on Feb. 14 board meeting that was loaded with people who were against the recent choice to better lay out how Friday prayers are to be taken care of. The choice to permit Muslims to have prayers in public schools was made some time back, however, some keep on objecting because the public board is allegedly nonsecular.
She informed the audience of the choice after the third and final delegation on the matter, which was settled a month ago.
“[W]e believe that we have heard sufficient opinions and questions and answers on the topic of religious accommodation in the Peel District School Board,” she said.
Trustees settled on the stoppage during a camera session before the meeting.
Beside one more delegation, rescheduled for Feb. 28, McDougald stated, “We will not be entertaining any more delegations on this subject.”
The audience started yelling at trustees as McDougald attempted to clarify that it was the board’s legitimate commitment to give religious accommodation. The group turned out to be more enraged than expected and a break was called.
“I knew that this would disappoint you, but, at the same time, you have elected individual trustees…(I) encourage you to email or phone them if you have further concerns,” she said.
McDougald and her partners were then literally booed off the stage.
Brampton trustee David Green stayed in the room and attempted to talk to the angry crowd, some of whom carried signs that expressed their disappointment with religion in public school.
Green told participants that he will hold a town hall meeting to talk about the matter.
“It’s not about coming here and yelling and screaming – we are going to get nothing done,” he said. “So let’s agree to work together, but, at the same time, respect each other.”
He included that Friday prayer has been present in Peel schools for years.
It wasn’t until this past September that the board enabled a change to a working procedure that saw the standardization of how Friday prayer was taken care of in schools.
One change was that students were no longer permitted to compose their own sermons, which were given amid Friday petition. They instead needed to utilize pre-written ones.
That move brought about an enormous reaction from the Muslim community. Many representatives addressed why the board was being suspicious of Muslim students and blamed the board for being Islamophobic.
Chief Pontes put a pause on the change last November while the board looked for legal advice.
The decision was made at a Jan. 10 meeting that quickly rolled out into chaos, proven by a couple delegates and a lady who was expelled by police.
Police were close by Feb. 14, alongside additional security. Regardless of the tension, nobody was allegedly arrested, or escorted from the building.
During the intermission, participant Dheer D’Mello stated, “My view is that if you want to go and worship and pray, go to your place of worship – be it a church; be it a temple; be it a mosque; be it a synagogue. The school is for education.”