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  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,    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.”    

The Legal stuff for you lawyer types

 The Education Act  views children as "vulnerable individuals".  The act determines that when dealing with children the "Duty of Care" is very high. 

Regulation 521/01 of the Education Act:   If you are still reading this far, you will find this Regulation interesting since it seems to be the fly in the ointment.   This Regulation caused many boards to change their policy yet some interpreted this Regulation differently and did not apply it to volunteers. 

Child and Family Services Act Professional misconduct also includes "Failing to comply with the member’s duty under the Child and Family Services Act" (CFSA). This law makes it an offence to abuse a child, or to permit a child to suffer abuse by failing to care and provide for or supervise and protect them adequately. For the purposes of the CFSA, "abuse" is defined as "a state or condition of being physically harmed, sexually molested or sexually exploited."

 Duty of Care:   the obligation, created by law, to take care not to harm others by act or omission. 
The Standard of Care:   The degree of care which a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances so as to avoid exposing others to an unreasonable risk or harm. In cases where the person to whom the duty is owed is a child in the school board’s care, the standard of care owed to the child is that of the reasonably prudent parent.
A standard of care is essentially the standard of behaviour against which the actions or omissions of the defendant(s) in a negligence claim will be judged. Canadian courts have held that the standard of care owed to a pupil by a school board and its principals and teachers is that of a “careful or prudent parent in the circumstances”.  (Myers v. Peel)  This standard has long been applied to the actions of educators in relation to their students.

Criminal Negligence : Is said to occur when an individual is aware that what he/she is doing is not allowed, or being done incorrectly. 
 *   Includes “wanton or reckless disregard” for life or safety.
 * The individual can be liable both criminally and civilly
Due Diligence means you are NOT liable where you exercised a degree of care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in comparable circumstances”                                                               - McCarthy, Tetrault - Toronto, Ontario   Due Diligence is not an attitude, but a set of measurable, observable actions
    • As a minimum, a reasonably prudent person would know current “industry standards” for an activity and communicate and apply them
    •  “What do other similar organizations do in this circumstance?”
    • “Did you do everything reasonable in the circumstances to prevent the accident from occurring?”
    • “Why not?
Foreseeable & Preventable
             *  The law in all cases demands that the degree of care is sufficient for the risk created – the higher the risk, the higher the degree of care required.
               * All reasonably foreseeable risks must be anticipated and steps taken to control the risk

Implementing Due Diligence
                --Ignorance of the law is no defense
                -- Know the Acts and Regulations
                -- Communicate responsibilities to others
                -- Know the industry standards or best practices
                -- Ensure your standards reflect those standards
    • The obligation to take “all reasonable care” to ensure compliance requires that proactive steps are taken to ensure compliance. Due diligence requires you to:
    • develop specific procedures & practices, communicate procedures /practices 
      • train the building occupants in the procedures/practices, monitor adherence, enforce compliance 
      • Before an Accident Occurs!

    • please note that "The safe schools Act"  amazingly says nothing of those who care for  the vulnerable.  

Safety 4 our schools

Ottawa is one of the last remaining Public school boards in Ontario which does NOT have criminal checks for ALL volunteers.  
  The culture of the schools and their translation of the policy 555 SCO is that "as long as it isn't an overnight trip they don't need a criminal check done"  I heard this statement almost word- for- word from so many parents.  I’m trying to change a “culture” not just a policy. 
       I’m trying to change a culture to realize that while a  parent may have the "right" to have access to their own child but they do not have the right to have access to other children.   To change a thinking that the same volunteers who spend so much of their time wouldn’t be more than willing to fill out a form and take it to a police station, and many volunteer elsewhere and have had criminal checks done somewhere else.  To change the thinking to realize that most volunteers AGREE with criminal checks and also realize their importance.   To change the thinking that asking a parent/ grandparent volunteer to have a criminal check would “offend them” or possibly stop them from volunteering.    To change the thinking that the school board would collapse if criminal checks were asked -- when 90 % of Ontario Public school board have this in place and survive quite well.   To change the thinking of parents that once they let the child inside the school that we can trust our schools to be doing the right thing and assume they are making child safety a priority.    
 I have spoken with so many sections of government and while they agree with me, I find there is a step back from getting involved and the finger is pointed towards someone else.   I don’t care which organization, agency or person who is responsible for changing this policy...  when it comes to the safety and innocence of children I think it is everyone’s  responsibility -- especially when a portion of our taxes goes towards school boards. 
Sign up under "get involved" in the Ottawa-Carleton school board website and sign up to receive emails on up coming board meetings.   Contact your school trustee to attempt to have this issue addressed sooner.