The Peel District School Board will update its Religious Accommodation Operating Procedure related to Friday Jummah prayer for Muslim students in early 2017.
"After hearing the voices of our students, speaking with our principals, gathering further information to strengthen our understanding and consulting legal counsel, board staff will make changes to the Peel board's operating procedure in compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Education Act," says Tony Pontes, director of education. "Through our longstanding Religious Accommodation Operating Procedure, the board has always been committed to an inclusive approach in all activities related to religious accommodation for students and staff of all faiths."
The following elements regarding Friday Jummah prayer will be included in the updated operating procedure:
- All prayer spaces will continue to be supervised by school staff.
- Prayer will be led by students only, on Friday, for Jummah prayer.
- Two or more students can pray together on any other day but prayers would not be led nor include a sermon.
- Students may write their own sermon (khutbah) or can use a sermon from a bank of prewritten sermons, obtained from the school Muslim Student Association (MSA) or a local faith leader.
- Sermons will be presented in English, except for any verses quoted directly from the Quran.
- Sermons must comply with the school Code of Conduct, the Education Act and its regulations, and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
- As with all student activities in schools, appropriate disciplinary and corrective action will be taken where there are any contraventions of the Ontario Human Rights Code or the school Code of Conduct.
It is expected that the Religious Accommodation Operating Procedure will be revised early in 2017, in consultation with Imams from the Peel board's Faith Leaders' Group, and communicated to trustees, school administrators, students, parents and the community. Until the operating procedure is revised, staff will continue to review Friday Jummah prayers prepared by students before they are delivered. The board will review the operating procedure at the end of the school year to ensure it is supporting all needs and meeting all requirements.
Media contact: Tony Pontes, Director of Education, 905-890-1010 ext. 2006, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reference: Brian Woodland, Director of Communications and Community Relations, 905-890-1010 ext. 2812, email@example.com