HWDSB Trustees Initiate Safe Schools Review Panel on Bullying
For Immediate Release
Hamilton, Ontario – Oct. 28, 2019: Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) will initiate a Safe Schools: Bullying Prevention & Intervention Review Panel to address the concern around bullying in the community.
On October 28, Board Trustees approved a staff report that calls for the formation of a panel to provide the Director of Education, Manny Figueiredo, with independent feedback and recommendations on how to prevent, intervene, report and respond to bullying. The resulting report is expected in May 2020 and will be shared with the Board of Trustees and made public.
“We take the safety and well-being of our students and staff seriously and know that, as the Board of Trustees, we can always do more to help improve the communities where we live and work,” said Alex Johnstone, Chair of HWDSB. “The panel will provide us with guidance and advice on bullying prevention strategies and tactics, so that we have the right tools to make our students and staff feel safe, supported and accepted.”
The members of the review panel will consist of respected community members who have knowledge and skills in equity, mental health, and school board operations. The panel’s members are still being determined.
With support from HWDSB, the review panel will gather input from students, families, staff and community partners. It will also consult with highly qualified, independent experts on bullying prevention, such as Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt, a children’s mental health and violence prevention expert at the University of Ottawa, and Dr. Kathy Short, the Director of School Mental Health Ontario.
Present at the board meeting were several organizations showing their support for the panel review, such as the Hamilton Community Foundation, the City of Hamilton, Hamilton Public Health Services, YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford, Liberty for Youth and system-committee representation including the Parent Involvement Committee, Human Rights and Equity Community Advisory Committee, and the Faith Community Advisory Committee to name a few examples.
“Bullying is a complex issue that is on the rise in our schools and communities. In order to help our students, and support our schools, we know the resources we need to address these issues also need to evolve,” Figueiredo said. “We see the work of this panel as a critical step in the process of understanding how we can learn and do more.”
Recognizing the need for immediate action, the review panel will work collectively with the existing efforts of HWDSB, including:
- A large network of social workers, counsellors, specialized teachers, public health nurses and multiple community partners who are always available to provide social learning and behaviour support to children at risk in schools.
- The addition of 25 child youth workers in September 2019 who work directly with students and their families to provide additional support to those experiencing bullying and other complex issues;
- Behavioural analysts brought into the school system in 2018 to work with teachers to identify various student behavioural needs and how to program for them; and
- An app for students to anonymously report incidents as they arise.
Additionally, the HWSDB’s Policy Committee reviewed amendments to the Code of Conduct Policy last school year, and will be reviewing two additional safe school policies this year: Bullying Prevention and Intervention, as well as Student Behaviour and Discipline.
Find the full report highlighting the Safe Schools: Bullying Prevention & Intervention Review Panel online at www.hwdsb.on.ca/about/trustees/meetings
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Shawn McKillop, APR
Manager, Communications and Community Engagement
T: 905.527.5092 x2941 C: 905.515.6227