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Safe Schools Review Panel

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“The review panel will provide us with guidance and advice on bullying prevention strategies and tactics, so that we have the best practices and tools to make our students and staff feel safe, supported and accepted.”

Alex Johnstone, Chair of the Board of Trustees, HWDSB

The Board of Trustees take student safety and well-being seriously and approved this review in order to engage with the broader community on the critical issue of bullying within our community. The true spirit of engagement is an iterative process that allows flexibility within the process once the consultation begins to ensure voices are heard of victims of bullying, as well as those using bullying behaviour.

This Review Panel will engage and consult with existing HWDSB stakeholder structures (i.e. Student Senate, Parent Involvement Committee) as well as stakeholder voices that are less likely heard (i.e. marginalized students, racialized parents) in order to obtain authentic and constructive recommendations.

In October, 2019, the Board passed a motion that a Bullying Prevention and Intervention Review Panel be created with a focus on bullying prevention, intervention, reporting, and responding in order to provide independent feedback and recommendations to the Director of Education and shared with the Board no later than May 31, 2020. The final report will be submitted to the Board no later than September 30, 2020.

The Review Panel’s scope is to review and consult with stakeholders (students, parents/guardians/caregivers, staff, union partners, community partners) on HWDSB Bullying Prevention, Intervention, Reporting, and Responding practices as per the HWDSB policy and procedure. The expectation is that an equity focus will be used throughout the process.

Roles and Responsibilities

Review Panel Consulting Firm Advisors/Experts
  • Attentiveness to systemic issues and root causes and critical analysis of consultation information and data to inform recommendations
  • Ensure consultation sessions involve all stakeholders (students, parents/guardians/caregivers, staff, union partners, community partners)
  • Final approval of consultation questions
  • 2 of the 3 panel members be present at each community engagement session
  • Participation (active listening), at community consultation sessions
  • Critical review of consultation information and data to inform recommendations
  • Author Reports with contribution from consulting firm and advisors/experts
  • Strategic advisor to panel and Director
  • Facilitate Consultations with her team
  • Develop consultation questions for approval by panel members and provide advice on the on-line questions (survey portion)
  • Develop the Communications Strategy
  • Analysis of consultation and report writing
  • Provide the latest research on bullying prevention and intervention
  • Provide advice on consultation questions
  • Facilitate and analyze the on-line survey portion of the consultation
  • Review report and recommendations provided

HWDSB Staff will provide the following supports and services where required such as access to interpreters, translations, facility rentals, data sharing agreement and safe school processes as well as a list of community partners and contact information.

Consultation and Methodology

The public participation method will be consultation in order to obtain public feedback input and feedback on recommendations. Panel will listen and acknowledge concerns and provide feedback on how public input influenced recommendations. The Review Panel will have one or two meeting(s) with the HWDSB staff to enable the panel to understand the processes and their rationale and to provide an opportunity for the critical assessment of the data.

The Review Panel and Kojo Institute will meet with the Student Senate for advice on the consultation plan and process prior to commencing engagement sessions.
The Consultation (Interim) Report will be shared with stakeholders for feedback prior to completion of final report. The expectation is that there will always be 2 of the 3 Review Panel members present at each consultation session.

The members of the review panel were named by Trustees at the November 12, 2019, board meeting, and will consist of the following respected community members who, combined have several decades of experience, knowledge and skills:

Panel Members

Dr Jean Clinton1 Dr. Jean Clinton is a Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster, division of Child Psychiatry. She is on staff at McMaster Children’s Hospital with cross appointments in Pediatrics and Family Medicine, and an Associate in the Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Toronto and Sick Children’s Hospital. She is a Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy, as well as a Zero to Three Academy Fellow since 2013. She has been a consultant to children and youth mental health programs, child welfare, and primary care for over 30 years. Dr. Clinton was appointed as an education advisor to the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Education 2014 – 2018. Dr. Clinton is renowned nationally and internationally as an advocate for children’s issues. Her special interest lies in brain development, and the crucial role relationships and connectedness play therein. Jean champions the development of a national, comprehensive child well-being strategy including a system of early learning and care for all young children and their families. She is equally committed to ensuring that children’s and youths’ needs and voices are heard and respected. Dr Clinton has lived and worked in Hamilton since 1965. She has been honoured with several awards and nominations including YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (2010), Hamilton Gallery of Distinction (2018) and nominated for Citizen of the year (2005). She attended McMaster University for both her undergraduate and medical degrees and received the McMaster Alumni Hamilton Community Impact Award in 2012. She lives in Hamilton with her partner Jim – they have 5 children and 4 grandchildren.
Brenda Flaherty Brenda Flaherty has retired from her role as the Executive Vice President and COO at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). She is an Assistant Professor at McMaster University’s School of Nursing and is a past part-time instructor in McMaster’s MBA program. She currently serves on the national board of YMCA Canada as Past Chair and was the former Chair of the Hamilton/ Burlington/ Brantford YMCA, and the former Chair of the North Hamilton Community Health Centre. Brenda led the development of the ground breaking “Live Well” partnership between the YMCA, HHS and McMaster University, which collaboratively links acute care hospital health services with community health and wellness programs. Brenda is the past Chair of The Change Foundation (TCF) and is currently a member of TCF Board Working Group on Evaluation and Strategy. She serves on the Ontario Brain Institute Outreach Advisory Committee. In addition to being a Registered Nurse from Mohawk College, Brenda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from McMaster University and a Master of Public Administration from Queen’s University. She was recently recognized by McMaster University, Faculty of Health Sciences with an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science. Brenda is married, has three daughters and Hamilton is her life long home.
Dr Gary Warner Dr. Gary Warner taught courses at McMaster University on Francophone Literature and on peace and international development and held various administrative roles including Department Chair, Associate Dean, co-Director of the Theme School on International Justice and Human Rights, founding Director of McMaster International and Director of the Arts & Science Program. He served as Director of the CUSO Program in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and later as Chair of CUSO’s international Board of Directors. He is a former Vice-Chair of the Ontario Council on University Affairs. He has been active in the Hamilton community for over 45 years on issues related to international development, peace, poverty, human rights, antiracism, immigration and social justice, including having served as Chair of the Working Committee of Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative, member of the Governing Council of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, the Steering Committee of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council, co-Chair of the Advisory Committee of the exhibit, “and still I Rise: A history of African-Canadian Workers in Ontario, 1900 to present”, and Chair of the Board of the Hamilton Community Foundation. He is a recipient of several awards, including the Hamilton Black History Month J.C. Holland Award, Professional Category (1998), the 2002 World Citizenship Award from the Hamilton Mundialization Committee jointly with his wife, the McMaster Student Union Lifetime Achievement Award (2004), the Order of Canada (2005), Hamilton Citizen of the Year (2006), Hamilton Gallery of Distinction (2006), St. Mary’s College (Trinidad) Hall of Fame (2007) and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). He lives with his wife, Joy, in Hamilton – they have 4 children and 9 grandchildren.

Consulting Firm

Kike Ojo Thompson Kike Ojo-Thompson is the founder and principal consultant of Kojo Institute. An award-winning expert on equity, inclusion and diversity, Kike specializes in developing, facilitating and implementing innovative solutions for creating equity at an institutional level. A dynamic speaker and educator who artfully balances tact and honesty, Kike has over 20 years of experience leading engaging and effective workshops, lectures, mediations, and trainings for a broad range of organizations eager to create equitable outcomes for their staff and clients. In addition to her equity work with Kojo Institute, Kike is a member of the Ontario Human Rights Community Advisory Committee, was formerly the senior facilitator for the province of Ontario’s carding review team, and formerly the project lead for One Vision One Voice, a first-of-its-kind initiative tasked with addressing anti-Black racism in the child welfare system. Of particular note, Kike is a former secondary school teacher and has since supported a number of Boards of Education throughout Ontario.

Independent Advisors

Barry Finlay has over 40 years experience in public education. Formerly, the Director of Special Education for the Province of Ontario, he was responsible for all areas of special education including policy development and implementation, corporate administration, strategic planning and funding. As Provincial Director, he managed the development of the special education funding portfolio involving the annual allocation of approximately 2.7 billion dollars to the Province’s 72 district school boards to meet the special education needs of approximately 335,000 students. Among major initiatives undertaken during his nine-year tenure in the role was responsibility for the Ministry of Education’s contribution to the Province of Ontario’s Mental Health Strategy in conjunction with multiple inter-ministerial partners. Prior to joining the Ministry of Education, Barry served in multiple roles in public education ranging from Special Education Teacher to Associate Director of Education in a public school board. Upon personal reflection, his most meaningful experience was as the founding principal of a high school that developed and incorporated structures and processes that by today’s definition would be recognized as those integral to a mentally healthy school. Barry has consulted broadly in the Province of Ontario as well as in the United States and Britain on the transformation of public education. From his early days in the classroom to his role as a Provincial Director, he has understood the relationship between mental health and learning and championed the development of mentally healthy learning environments for all students.

Dr. Debra J. Pepler is a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University. For 35 years, she has led research on aggression, bullying, and victimization among children and adolescents. From 2004 to 2012, she was a member of the Safe Schools Action Team for the Ontario Minister of Education. Her programs of research on peer and family relationships have been embedded in educational, clinical, and community programs including: the Toronto Board of Education Bullying Prevention Program, SNAP (Stop Now and Plan) program for aggressive children at the Child Development Institute, Breaking the Cycle – a program for substance using mothers and their young children, Pine River Institute for youth with addictions and mental health problems, and the Canadian Red Cross community mobilization and wellness programming in Indigenous communities. She is currently involved in programs and research within over 15 Indigenous communities through grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, National Crime Prevention, and Public Health Agency of Canada. She recently participated on the Respect and Culture Committee in conducting a systemic review at St. Michael’s College School. Dr. Pepler co-founded and co-led a federally funded national network, PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) to promote healthy relationships and prevent bullying for children and youth (www.prevnet.ca). Her research has informed practice and policy related to children and youths’ relationships and violence prevention. In this capacity, she served as a Senior Research Fellow at the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre and she is currently working to support Canada’s participation in the Global Initiative to End Violence Against Children aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 16.2.

Dr. Kathy Short is a Clinical Child Psychologist (University of British Columbia, 1995) with research and practice interests that focus on school mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention services. She is the Executive Director for School Mental Health Ontario, a provincial team that helps Ontario school boards to support student mental health using evidence-based approaches. She was a member of the Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (2015-2017) and chaired the Mental Health Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention Work Group for the Council. Dr. Short also served on the Ontario Education Research Panel (2009-2012) and the Student Well-Being Advisory Committee (2016-2018) for the Ministry of Education. In addition to provincial leadership in school mental health, Dr. Short is engaged in several national and international projects in this area. For example, she led the Knowledge Translation and Exchange Team for the School-Based Mental Health and Substance Abuse Consortium (Mental Health Commission of Canada), and is currently working with several partners to create a cross-provincial knowledge hub in school mental health. She also co-chairs the School Mental Health International Leadership Exchange (SMHILE), a network of global leaders focused on key themes in student mental health promotion and prevention services. SMHILE has recently become the lead school mental health voice within the International Initiative on Mental Health Leadership.

Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in School-Based Mental Health and Violence Prevention at the University of Ottawa where she is cross-appointed as a full professor in Counselling Psychology, Faculty of Education and the School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences. She is also an elected member of The College of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Vaillancourt’s research examines the links between bullying and mental health, with a particular focus on social neuroscience. She is currently funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada, and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Check back for engagement opportunities coming in 2020.

Questions about the panel:


Media Contact:

Shawn McKillop, APR
Manager, Communications and Community Engagement
T: 905.527.5092 x2941 C: 905.515.6227

Find resources on the HWDSB Bullying Prevention web page.

Updated on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
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