Superintendent’s Task Force on School Safety

SD 73 will begin work to implement Task Force’s recommendations on sexual misconduct in schools

The work of implementing recommendations designed to help and protect students who face sexual misconduct in schools will get under way immediately, trustees were told Monday.

Alison Sidow, Superintendent for School District No. 73 (Kamloops-Thompson), presented a final report from the Superintendent’s Task Force on Student Safety at the Board of Education’s public meeting. The 12-page report outlines the comprehensive work of the committee, the group’s key findings as well as recommendations that stem from the findings.

Sidow said she is extremely satisfied with the Task Force’s work, noting the recommendations will help improve the experience of students on many fronts. She added the recommendations will inform future District policies, protocols and decision-making, and improve staff training and educational programs for students. The work of developing an implementation plan and schedule will be formally developed through the summer.

The Task Force was formed in March after two parents complained to the District about unrelated incidents involving sexual misconduct and their children. The parents were concerned about the nature of the incidents and the way their complaints were initially addressed.

“I was deeply disturbed when these issues arose,” Sidow said. “The District’s intention is always to provide a safe, productive learning space for all our students and staff, and it was clear that some did not believe this was the case. I am confident these recommendations will guide us so that the District can better ensure students have positive school experiences.”

The Task Force was asked to examine District policies, protocols and practices to ensure that they consider not only actions required to prevent and address acts of sexual misconduct but also the needs and perspectives of those who are impacted.

The District invited representatives from agencies such as the RCMP, Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre, school and District administration, parents, the Aboriginal Education Council and the Board of Education to the Task Force.

As well as policy reviews, the Task Force consulted with local parents, students, teachers and Aboriginal leaders to hear firsthand about their experiences with education and sexual misconduct. The Task Force also sought counsel from Kevin Cameron, the Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, who is a renowned subject-matter expert in the field of threat assessment and trauma response.

"The Superintendent's Task Force report is evidence of the power of multi-disciplinary collaboration in both assessing and intervening in one of the most complex issues we are facing today,” said Cameron. “This initiative will set the standard for other Canadian communities to follow as a first step in openly addressing sexualized violence."

The Task Force recommended:

• Promoting and/or creating reporting tools to ensure those who may be impacted have the means to seek out the supports they require;

• Informing the parent(s) of the policies, procedures and processes that will be used when responding to an issue of sexual misconduct, including the process a parent can follow to provide feedback, issue a complaint or request an appeal;

• Providing ongoing learning opportunities, starting at the elementary school level, to educate students about healthy relationships as well as measures they can take to report incidents or seek support;

• Defining what constitutes sexual misconduct in schools;

• Developing policies and procedures that specifically address sexual misconduct;

• Revisiting District policies that contemplate violence, harassment, bullying, intimidation and other forms of discrimination to include the definition of sexual misconduct in both intent and implementation; and,

• Reviewing response protocols to ensure that all District staff working with children know how to receive complaints in a way that respects the rights and needs of those known to be impacted.

Sidow said she believes the Task Force’s work showed that overall, SD 73 schools do a good job of providing positive, safe environments for students. The recommendations, however, will help the District address issues that arise within our schools from our society at large.

“It’s my hope that the leadership shown by this Task Force in providing these recommendations will serve our community and society at large by helping to ameliorate the underlying conditions that so often propagate these behaviours,” she said. “I hope this will report will enable us to take a definitive step forward in preventing sexual misconduct in our schools and by extension, in our community at large.”

The full report is available here.