Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Response from the Ministry of Education

Well it is official, the Ministry has NO power over school boards.   School boards are publicly funded institutions with absolutely NO watchdog.  You might join your schools' parents council, but parent councils have no "teeth"/ power, you could go to your school Trustees, but they claim to be held by Bill 177 therefore as you will see in the following letter who the sole power has been left with, for us here in Ottawa who are part of the public system it lies with only two people.

Since Ottawa Carleton District School Board is averaging 8- 13 years to review their policies that relate to child safety, I continue to have hope that the entire school board system could be change at the Ministry level quicker than fighting issues at the local level.  A 731.1 million dollar budget with 70,000 students and NO WATCH DOG in place for this school board or ANY school boards within Ontario.

Every complaint against a nurse is addressed by an independent committee, complaints against doctors, complaints against Police services, even inmates have a watchdog with the Ontario Ombudsman, where is a watchdog for our children ?  

Here is the response from the Minister of Education:

December 21, 2011

Thank you for your letter about criminal records checks for volunteers in some school boards in the Ottawa area.  I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Let me begin by assuring you that our government is committed to a safe school environment.  However, I would like to clarify the relationship between school boards and the Ministry of Education.  The role of the ministry is to determine the general directions and policies related to education for all of Ontario's publicly funded schools.   Although general policies are established by the Education Act, school boards, as legally constituted statutory corporations under the Act, are responsible for delivering programs and operating their schools by setting local policies and procedures.

While I appreciate being made aware of this matter, your concerns do fall under the jurisdiction of the local school board and should continue to be addressed at the local level.

I understand that an education officer from the Ottawa Regional Office was in contact with you in September and discussed your concerns at some length.   In addition to outlining the role of the ministry and that of boards, a number of potential courses of action were highlighted for you.  These courses of action included further discussion with school board staff, presentations to school councils and/or the board, as well as the option of obtaining legal advice.

I encourage you to continue your discussions with the Associate Director of Education, Superintendent Walter Piovesan, at 613-596-8211 extension 8252, or by email at water.piovesan@ocdsb.ca, or with the Director of Education, Dr. Jennifer Adams, at 613-596-8211 extension 8490, or by email at jennifer.adams@ocdsb.ca.

Thank you again for your valued input.

Yours truly,

Laurel Broten

(please contact me if you wish me to forward the official letter onto you.  @heathertwins - twitter )

Below is a LIST of Ontario  SCHOOL BOARDS -- see where your school board is listed :  

Monday, 7 November 2011

ALL Catholic & Public School Boards in Ontario -- NO Criminal checks for volunteers in our schools !!!

There are still school boards in Ontario which allow volunteers who have NOT had a criminal background check !!! 

 69 school boards have a strong policy that requires community & parents to have a criminal check who volunteer with students in our schools. 
9 school boards (two are in Ottawa- Capital of Canada) have a poor policy for school safety and allow some volunteers who have NOT had a criminal check. (often parents, grandparents).    There is 1 unknown listed at the end of this list I am waiting for a response from them.     This is the updated list that includes both Catholic and Public school boards in Ontario. (some French boards are included)  

The school boards I spoke with were SHOCKED that there were any school boards that continued to allow this.  Please feel free to contact any school boards listed - phone numbers and websites are listed on the Ministry of Education website.   

There is no legal requirement for our schools to have criminal checks for all volunteers.  (see further for legal details)   There is no watch dog agency for school boards.   

***Upper Grand District school board is working towards safer practices but the final decision is still left up to the Principal to decide. (see their policies). ***

Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board
Algoma District School Board

Avon Maitland District School Board
District School Board of Niagara

Bloorview School Authority
Keewatin-Patricia District School Board

Bluewater District School Board
Ottawa Catholic District School Board 

Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board
Ottawa Carleton District School Board(PR.555.SCO)

Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board
Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board 

Campbell Children’s School Authority
Upper Grand District School Board 

Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
Waterloo Regional District School Board 

District School Board Ontario North East 

Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Aurores boréales  (unless field trips & overnight) 

Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Durham Catholic District School Board

Durham District School Board

Grand Erie District School Board

Greater Essex County District School Board

Halton Catholic District School Board

Halton District School Board

Hamilton- Wentworth Catholic District School Board

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board

Huron Perth Catholic District School Board

Huron- Superior Catholic District School Board

John McGivney Children’s Centre School Authority

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board

Lakehead District School Board

Lambton Kent District School Board

Limestone District School Board

London District Catholic School Board

Near North District School Board 

Niagara Catholic District School Board

Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre School Authority

Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board

Northeastern Catholic District School Board 

Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre School Authority

Peel District School Board

Penetanguishene Protestant Separate School Board

Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board

Provincial Schools (board)

Rainbow District School Board

Rainy River District School Board

Renfrew County Catholic District School Board

Renfrew County District School Board 

Simcoe County District School Board 

Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board

St. Clair Catholic District School Board 

Sudbury Catholic District School Board 

Superior North Catholic District School Board 

Superior-Greenstone District School Board

Thames Valley District School Board 

Toronto District School Board 

Toronto Catholic District School Board 

Trillium Lakelands District School Board 

Upper Canada District School Board

Waterloo Catholic District School Board 

Wellington Catholic District School Board 

Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board 

York Catholic District School Board 

York Regional District School Board 

James Bay Lowlands Secondary School Board

Moose Factory Island District School Area Board 

Moosonee District School Area Board 

KidsAbility Education Authority 

Kenora Catholic District School Board 

Northwest Catholic District School Board
Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario

Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud

Conseil scolaire de district catholique du Centre-Est de l'Ontario

Conseil scolaire de district catholique Franco-Nord

Conseil scolaire de district du Nord-Est de l'Ontario

Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l'Est ontarien

Conseil scolaire de district des écoles catholiques du Sud-Ouest



Sunday, 16 October 2011

List of Antiquated policies related to student safety --8- 13 years old !!!

The following is a list of policies of the OTTAWA-CARLETON PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD.  These are ALL polices that relate to the safety of children.   ALL of the following polices are 9 to 14 years old.    That means these polices have NOT been revised, discussed, looked, changed in any way during that time.   These are the policies that ALL Principals, teachers, parents, students and volunteers  MUST follow.   Shocking !!!

Name of Policy 
Reference #
Date it was last revised (discussed)
Guidelines for dealing with reports of strangers approaching students
        May 1998
Custody & Access to students by parents & guardians
    Nov. 2001 
Field Trips & excursions
    Jan.  2001 
HIV -AIDS students
     Aug. 1998
     Feb.  2000 
Educational tours & student exchange
     Feb.  2003
Reporting suspected child abuse & neglect- student under 16 years old
     April 2001 
Confidential communication between students & staff
   revised  May 2002
Student safety patrols
     June 2000
Alleged/ suspected violence within a student’s family
  PR. 606.SCO
     April  2001 
Crisis Prevention & Intervention 
     April 2001
School Dances 
     Nov. 1998 
Alleged employee misconduct towards a student
    Oct. 2002
Alleged harassment of a student
   Mar. 2001
Antiracism & ethocultural equity
     April 2001 
HIV-AIDS employees
     Aug. 1998
Employee & student safety: eye wash stations
     Aug. 1999

one more policy:
Trustee expenses for professional development, constituency communications & support services.    PR.503.GOV date last revised:       Oct. 2009    !!!   (love to see our Trustees are taking care of things).

If you were to read the policies of other Public school boards in Ontario (all online) you would begin to see how advanced they are compared to Ottawa.   York regional has a policy that states that all board policies MUST be reviewed every 4 years.   I'm thinking Ottawa Public school board has a similar one but it is to review their policies every 10 years !!    (sarcasm showing) 

I don't have the space on here (and the time) to list the remainder of the polices but there are not many policies left that relate to child safety that ARE up-to-date.   

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The second hand-out I've been giving out

ALL Ottawa- Carleton Public schools  continue to allow volunteers WITHOUT criminal background checks !!! 
  • criminal checks are free for volunteers
  • the present practice of, signing your name on a sheet gives us little information on who we have allowed into our classrooms.  
  • read your policy online www.ocdsb.ca  search “555 SCO” : the 11 year old policy on volunteers.   
  • 2.1 A parent volunteer in a school is a parent or guardian who currently has a child enrolled in and attending that school, or is a member of the community who continues as a volunteer in a school without interruption after the child has left the school.   (presently even grandparents have been included) 
  • low risk includes: • “in open, common area (for example, hallways, library, gym) with intermittent observation”  “Where the principal deems the volunteer activity to be of low risk, the principal or designate may allow a parent to volunteer without screening “  policy 555 SCO  written Feb. 2000 and no revisions since Feb. 2000.   (most schools practice no criminal check unless it is an overnight trip) 
  • As shown on CBC News at 6 pm on September 16, 2011www.cbc.ca    search CBC News Ottawa.    
  •   Ask your school trustee for your child’s school if ALL volunteers (including parent / grandparent volunteers) have criminal background checks.  Please make one phone call to assure the safety of your child. 
  • 90% of all public school boards in Ontario have this policy in place. Some  for the past 10 years !!  All boards have their policies online.  
  • join Facebook group  “Ottawa- Carleton school board Criminal background checks for ALL volunteers.”