Frank Klees

Press Releases 2008

June 12, 2008

KLEES CALLS ON MCGUINTY LIBERALS TO FIX

EDUCATION LOOPHOLE AND MAKE CHILDREN’S SAFETY A PRIORITY

 

Ontario PC Party willing to co-operate with government to ensure speedy amendment to legislation

 

(Queen’s Park) – Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees (Newmarket-Aurora) today called on the McGuinty Liberals to make school safety a top priority by introducing legislation to close a legal loophole that doesn’t require cases of student-on-student assault be reported to authorities. 

“Keeping Ontario’s children safe is a top priority for our party,” said Klees. “How can the McGuinty Liberals say that they feel the same way when there is such a glaring flaw in the legislation that is supposed to protect our children?”

Klees was referring to a situation in which the principal of a local school failed to report an incident of student-on-student assault during school hours and on school property to the parents and to the police. The parents of the assaulted child later learned of the incident and reported it to police themselves. Two 13 year-old students were subsequently charged with assault and assault with a weapon.

The Child and Family Services Act of Ontario states that child abuse at the hands of a parent or person in authority must be reported to police or the CAS, but there is no legal requirement to report abuse or violence at the hands of another student.

“Parents in Ontario should have the right to expect that their kids will be safe when they send them off to school each day,” said Klees. “This incident points out the glaring loophole in the law, that there is no legal obligation for school officials to report a student-on-student assault to police. For the Minister of Education to ignore the Opposition’s offer to expedite amending the legislation to close that loophole contradicts the Premier’s commitment that his government will make it a priority to ensure the safety of our kids in school.”

“Our party is ready to act. We know the loophole exists and we’re willing to co-operate with the government to amend this legislation before the House rises for the summer months,” added Klees. “Ontario’s parents and children deserve nothing less.” 

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References:

Frank Klees, MPP

Newmarket-Aurora                                                                          

416 509 8999                                                                                 

See Education school safety

Articles

Dealing with Abuse at School

by Moira MacDonald, Toronto Sun June 25, 2008

Principal failed to report assault on Gr. 1 boy

by Jonathan Jenkins, Queen's Park Bureau click here

York Region’s Catholic school board admits to a breach of protocol

by Joe Fantauzzi, Staff Writer click here

 

Principals balk at reporting fights

Kristin Rushowy, Toronto Star Education Reporter June 18, 2008


Frankly Speaking

Who's Protecting Our Kids?

Hansard, June 12, 2008

School safety

Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Deputy Premier. Yesterday, I brought to the Premier’s attention a situation where a principal failed to report to the police a situation of student-on-student assault during school hours on school property. The Premier responded by assuring us that he would ask the Minister of Education to look into the matter, to investigate the matter, and he also assured us that the safety of our children in our schools was an absolute priority for this government.

I would ask if the Deputy Premier could advise us what steps the government is taking to ensure that students are in fact safe and that the appropriate reporting will take place should in fact an assault take place.

Hon. George Smitherman: To the Minister of Education.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I appreciate the member opposite bringing the incident to our attention. Obviously all students have the right to be safe in their schools, and more than that, I completely agree with the member opposite that families have a right to know what is happening in schools and when there have been incidents. My understanding is that the director of the board has indicated that the principal did not follow protocol in reporting the incident. We are actually in the process of reviewing police protocols and we are monitoring those very closely.

Mr. Frank Klees: I appreciate that, and I appreciate the minister following up on that. We’ll look forward to the specific reports. The government must know that currently there is in fact no legal obligation under the Child and Family Services Act for school officials to report a student-on-student assault to police. Currently the only legal obligation is to report child abuse at the hands of a parent or person in authority, not abuse or violence at the hands of another student. Given the Premier’s assurance yesterday and the minister’s assurance now that student safety is in fact a priority for the government, can the minister assure us that the government will bring forward legislation that closes that loop-hole, that does not require a mandatory reporting under the law? Will the minister commit to bringing that legislation forward so that we can deal with it before we rise for the summer?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Obviously these are very serious issues that the member opposite raises, which is why we re-enacted our Safe Schools Action Team, led by my parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph. She is currently looking at both the police protocols and the reporting mechanisms, because there are various reporting mechanisms and requirements in place. What we want to be clear about is that any gaps in those are filled, and that is certainly what I will be expecting in her report within the coming months.

Mr. Frank Klees: We know what needs to be done, apart from protocol and reporting obligations. We know this: that there’s a loophole in the law today that can be fixed by this Legislature before we rise for the summer. Given the Premier’s commitment to student safety, we, the official opposition, are ready to co-operate with the government to approve that legislation—the amendment to the act that will in fact make it a requirement for school officials to report assault directly to the police when it happens.

My question to the minister is this: Will she commit to bringing that legislation and count on the support of the opposition parties to pass that legislation so, when kids go to school in September, parents can rely on the law and the obligations under law that administrators will look after the safety of their children?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: What’s interesting in this situation is, the precipitating event for the member’s questions was a situation where in fact the protocol was not followed. I’ve already said that we are looking at protocols, we are going to be looking for the gaps and we’re going to be reviewing those reporting mechanisms.

The point is that apart from all the protocols, what we need is good communication. In this instance or in any other instance where there’s an incident at a school, parents need to be apprised of that; they need to be apprised the incident in a reasonable period of time. There’s a blend of common sense and protocol that needs to be in place in the running of any school. We’re looking at the protocols, we’re looking at the reporting mechanisms. In this case, it’s very unfortunate that the parents were not apprised of the situation. That should have happened.