Public Interest Disclosures
It is shocking and sad to hear about any abuse of young people. It does bring anger to the surface for many and also feelings of helplessness, guilt or shame for others. Whether it be in hockey, football, gymnastics, swimming, education or any other community of trust, there has to be systemic change to combat the problem.
In my decades-long career, I am aware of two incidents of a staff member being wrongly accused. In one instance, the child was being abused, not by a staff member, but by a family member. In the other instance, the child was deeply troubled by life circumstances and had lashed out.
People's professional reputations are on the line, so discretion is required. Still, the interests of the child should remain front and center.
I am pleased that school divisions in Manitoba have started to work with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
I am gratified the province of Manitoba has passed legislation.
I am appreciative SJASD has passed a policy mandating both expected behaviour and a reporting process:
"Once an allegation or suspicion of misconduct is reported, the supervisor should, in all cases where they weren’t previously aware of the extended access, seek advice from Human Resources staff in determining appropriate next steps in addressing the situation."
Any policy is better than no policy. This does not go far enough. It should be a requirement for all allegations to be in writing. It should be required the complainant receive a response, in writing, as to what steps were taken. It should be a requirement that the Superintendent's office be made aware of the allegation(s).
The link itself should be highlighted and easily found on the SJASD website. The policy should be reviewed annually with every parent, volunteer and staff member. Students should also be made aware of the policy (annually) in an age-appropriate manner.
Consider the policy from a neighbouring school division:
"The disclosure must be in writing and provide the following information (if known): a. a description of the wrongdoing; b. the names of the person(s) alleged to have committed or about to commit a wrongdoing; c. the date of the wrongdoing; d. if the matter has already been raised and the response received."