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Vernon  

Child abused at school

UPDATE 2:20 p.m.

The superintendent of North Okanagan-Shuswap School District 83 has issued a statement regarding allegations of sexual abuse of an elementary student. 

While Peter Jory did not respond to requests for comment from Castanet, he did issue an email statement that Castanet has acquired.

“While we are unable to respond to the specific incident that was reported in the media, we would like to assure our school community that we approach each student issue from a lens of empathy and care. We support all students in our district and will continue to respond to student needs on a case by case basis,” Jory stated. 

Jory went on to state, “Our School District is dedicated to ensuring the safety and emotional well-being of all of our students and staff. Planning for student safety, including understanding and addressing sexual behaviour of children under the age of 12, is undertaken by a team of professionals based at our schools and district and involves professionals in the community with expertise in these complex matters.”

The mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the daughter, said her child is struggling with the abuse she has experienced.

“My daughter hasn't been doing well since this happened. She is seeing a therapist who is helping her through this traumatic ordeal.” 

Since the matter has come to light, the mother said there has been an outpouring of support and “many people are calling the school board asking questions.”

The mother said she is meeting with District 83 school board Trustee Mike McKay on Monday regarding the matter.

Castanet has sent McKay an email message seeking comment.

"There will not be any comment beyond what has been shared with the school community through the letter sent home by the superintendent," McKay responded in an email.

The mother said she will not give up the fight for her daughter or other children who may face similar trauma.

“I'm hoping for changes to be made to the policies and procedures regarding sexual abuse that's handled in the school system,” she said, adding she will “keep climbing the ladder” until she reaches someone who can do something about it.

“I will not turn a blind eye to that kind of behaviour to children.”

Here is Peter Jory's statement in full:

As you may be aware, an article published through a local media outlet reported concerns regarding a specific student issue. While we are unable to respond to the particular details of any student matter, we would like to share our approach to providing care and support to students in our schools.

Our School District is dedicated to ensuring the safety and emotional well-being of all of our students and staff. Planning for student safety, including understanding and addressing sexual behaviour of children under the age of 12, is undertaken by a team of professionals based at our schools and district and involves professionals in the community with expertise in these complex matters.

We approach all situations mindful of individual circumstances and best practices for safety. The district also reaches out to the Ministry of Education’s provincial safe school experts. In addition to safety plans for students, the district engages with the Ministry of Education’s Safe Schools team to do a full procedure review. Findings and recommendations from that external review are actioned as appropriate.

While we are unable to respond to the specific incident that was reported in the media, we would like to assure our school community that we approach each student issue from a lens of empathy and care. We support all students in our district and will continue to respond to student needs on a case by case basis. If you have any questions, please reach out to your school principal.

Sincerely,

Peter Jory Superintendent of Schools/CEO School District No.83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap)

 


A North Okanagan mother is distraught after hearing her six-year-old daughter was sexually abused at her elementary school for several months.

The woman, who's name is not being used to protect the identity of her child, said her daughter was sexually abused by a nine-year-old girl for three months and North Okanagan-Shuswap District 83 officials are not doing enough to protect her child.

“It's a nightmare that has been going on since November 2017,” said the mother, whose daughter is in Grade 1. 

“On Nov. 14 just before school, she came to me and said she did not want to go to school anymore. Upon asking her what was going on she advised me there was a little girl that was taking her into the bathroom and sexually touching her.”

The woman and her husband immediately called school officials and police.

Vernon RCMP spokesperson Kelly Brett said a file on the incident has been opened by police.

The mother said the parents of the alleged abuser were contacted and the girl was suspended from school for 10 days.

The mother claims school officials made several assurances for when the offending student returned to class, but none were carried out.

“They put forth a safety plan for when they brought the girl back so my daughter wouldn't have contact, and from day one they broke everything,” she claimed.

“My husband got quite upset with the principal asking why none of the things were done that were supposed to be and (the school principal) called the cops and put the school on a hold and secure. She sent out emails to all of the students in response to an aggressive male on school property which scared a lot of parents into asking what was going on,” she said, adding the situation then prompted district officials to set up a public meeting with parents about sexual abuse.

On Wednesday, the mother said her husband received notice that he was banned from all school grounds within the district.

The mother took her concerns a step further by contacting Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, the Ministry of Education and District 83 superintendent Peter Jory.

The mother says Kyllo and the Ministry of Education had Safer Schools come in and make changes to the school plan “but they weren't adhered to.”

On Tuesday, the mother went to the school to meet with the principal in person and was told the principal had taken her daughter into the alleged abuser classroom for 30 minutes.

“Which is against the safety implementations put forth by the school and Safer Schools,” she said.

District 83 Superintendent Peter Jory did not reply to a request for comment by Castanet.



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