More controversy is looming for embattled Education Minister Jeanie McLean and the Department of Education.
Speaking Monday afternoon in the legislature, McLean informed her fellow MLAs of a new investigation being launched into the ongoing problems at Jack Hulland Elementary School.
“Information has recently come to light that the use of holds and physical intervention being used to manage student behaviour at Jack Hulland may be in breach of school policies and possibly the Criminal Code of Canada,” McLean told the assembly.
“This information has been reported now to the RCMP and (territorial) Family and Children Services. We understand that an investigation is now underway.
“To ensure that we provide full and accurate information to support the investigation, the Department of Education is conducting a fact-finding review to look at workplace risk assessments at Jack Hulland, including the Grove Street program, as well as other relevant reports involving the use of holds and isolation rooms over the last five years.”
The Porter Creek school’s Grove Street program is provided for students with behavioural issues.
“We are working to confirm who will lead this fact-finding review, and we will share more details as they become available,” McLean advised the house.
“I want to be clear that the Yukon Teachers’ Association (YTA) has been engaged and that the school council staff and families are being notified.
“There is a school council meeting this Wednesday, which I will attend along with senior officials.”
More significant news for McLean and the department came Tuesday afternoon.
Annette King, the territory’s Child and Youth Advocate, issued a statement declaring her office has formally notified the Departments of Education, Health and Social Services, and Justice of a new systemic review over recent reports of child restraints and confinement spaces at Jack Hulland.
“The objective of the review is to ensure a co-ordinated response by Yukon Government to support children and their families in recovering from the harm caused by these alleged practices,” stated King.
“We intend to ensure that any response from the departments involved upholds the rights of children.”
The advocate has requested information regarding communication, status of investigation, therapeutic supports and co-ordination of services.
“The systemic issue of physical restraint and confinement at Jack Hulland raises a substantial question of public concern for students, particularly students with special needs,” said King.
“We are alarmed by how many rights are violated by these alleged practices, and will structure our review according to how the government responds.”
YTA president Ted Hupé said he is looking into the situation, but isn’t overly familiar with it.
He said he would look at the transcripts of what McLean told the legislature, and that he is aware of a letter that has been sent to parents.
There was no response to the Star’s inquiry to the school council about the situation.
The Yukon Party said this morning, “We urge the Liberal government to fully co-operate with the investigations and to share all the information requested by the Child and Youth Advocate and parents.”
The party raised issues of the harassment and bullying of students and staff at the school, and property damage there earlier in the current legislative session.
Neither the official Opposition nor the NDP had any questions on the announced investigations for McLean during Tuesday’s question period.