ST. JOHN’S, NL – Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dale Kirby said proactive steps are being taken with stakeholders to review the Schools Act to make sure it is up to date.
That includes discussions on suspensions and expulsions, home schooling, and appeals of decisions that affect students, he said in a news release on Wednesday, Feb. 14.
“We are listening to the concerns raised by students and community members throughout the province,” Kirby said.
“Ensuring all students have a positive, safe and caring learning environment is a key priority for our government. It is also equally important that legislation and education policies keep pace with developments in our evolving society.”
Kirby and Siobhan Coady, the minister responsible for Status of Women, and other department officials met with members of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre, the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Provincial Advisory Council for the Status of Women on Wednesday.
They discussed the province’s Safe and Caring Schools Policy, the Schools Act and violence prevention in schools.
The Safe and Caring Schools Policy provides school-based protocols and practices to combat bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
“Providing a safe and caring learning environment is the priority of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District and collaboration with the partners at the meeting today is a positive step to address sexual violence that may involve students,” said Tony Stack, interim CEO and director of education for the school district.
“We look forward to continuing this approach, reviewing the Schools Act, and developing a district policy that will enhance the safety of our learning environments and help us appropriately address these circumstances when schools are impacted.”
Nicole Kieley, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre, said the conversations on Wednesday were insightful and a start towards change.
“Next steps and actions taken will be the most critical to everyone concerned and impacted by sexual violence. Our centre is committed to supporting solutions that incorporate a survivor-centred and trauma-informed approach,” she said.