Frank Klees

Press Releases 2008

For Immediate Release                                                                       June 11, 2008

Premier Agrees to Investigate Assault at York Region Catholic School

(Queen’s Park) The parents of a 6-year-old who was assaulted in the washroom of a York Region Catholic School got the commitment of Premier Dalton McGuinty today that their concerns over the handling of the incident will be investigated by the Minister of Education.

Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees brought the issue to the Premier's attention in the Legislature today after his attempts to have the issue dealt with to the satisfaction of the parents were rebuffed at the school board level.

"This matter could and should have been settled by the school board," said Klees. "The parents wanted an acknowledgement from the Principal and the Board that this was a serious breach of Board protocol and that specific steps would be taken to ensure this would not happen again. They felt that they and their child were owed a formal apology and wanted assurances that the matter was being taken seriously.  Instead they feel that this incident has been downplayed and that the wagons were circled."

Klees was contacted by the parents when they realized that no one at the local level was taking up their cause and were concerned that their son’s assault was not being taken seriously by the school board.

"I want to make it very clear that I will not accept a cavalier attitude when it comes to these issues. Every parent should have the confidence that when their children are at school, they are in a safe environment and that those in positions of responsibility will ensure a safe and secure environment for them," said Klees.

  

                         -30-

References:

Frank Klees, MPP

Newmarket-Aurora                                                                          

416 509 8999                                                                                  


June 12 Follow up click here

Klees calls on McGuinty Liberals to fix education loophole and make children's safety a priority

Hansard, Tuesday, June 11, 2008

School safety

Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Premier. I want to bring a matter to the Premier’s attention that I’m sure he’ll be very concerned about as well. On March 4, a six-year-old grade 1 student was assaulted in a washroom of a York Region Catholic school by two 13-year-old students. Although the principal was made aware of the assault, she did not report it to the parents. The parents found out about this from the boy’s sister, who attends the same school. The 6-year-old had been beaten with a belt. When the parents confronted the principal and asked if she would contact the police, the principal said “no,” and that she had no intention of reporting the matter. The parents called the police, who charged the two 13-year-old boys with assault and assault with a weapon. To this day, the parents have yet to receive a formal acknowledgment from the school board or the principal of a failure to act responsibly.

I want to know from the Premier: Will he agree to intervene?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: It’s the first time that I’ve been apprised of these facts. They are, to say the very least, disturbing. I will certainly undertake to bring this to the attention of the Minister of Education so that she can move on this as quickly as possible and learn more about it herself and then take the appropriate steps. Obviously, our thoughts are with the parents of the child involved, and I think we have a very high accountability to them to keep them informed and to ensure that these kinds of things are, in fact, reported at the earliest possible opportunity.

Mr. Frank Klees: I have been working with the parents over the last number of months in the wake of this incident. I wrote a letter to the Director of Education. Her response to me showed, quite frankly, that the Director of Education was misinformed about this incident. In response to that letter, the mother said this: “The letter shows nothing but the board having any desire for reaching a satisfactory resolution to this matter in the near future, but only reinforces the efforts made by the school and board to downplay and conceal the assault and the mishandling of it under their direction.”

What we don’t want to have happen here is that parents lose faith in the safety of the schools their children are attending. I welcome the Premier’s willingness to direct the minister to look into this matter personally. We all want to be assured that parents have the confidence that their children will be safe in their schools.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, I can’t speak to the facts because I’m not familiar with them myself. I will have the minister look into this as soon as possible. I think that’s the responsible thing to do in the circumstances. But let me just second the sentiment just expressed by my colleague opposite. If there’s one thing that I think we are legitimately entitled to expect of our publicly funded school system, it’s that our children will, at minimum, be safe there. Notwithstanding quality-of-education issues and challenges associated with learning, at a minimum, we expect that our children will be safe within the schoolyard and within the school building itself. That’s a legitimate expectation. I fully endorse the sentiment endorsed by my colleague. As I say, I will ask the minister to look into these facts and report.