Education council investigating allegation that Fort Simpson child was struck by teacher

A Fort Simpson father is alleging that his non-verbal autistic child was struck by a teacher at the community’s Liidlii Kue Elementary School last month.

The Dehcho Divisional Education Council (DDEC) is investigating, but the RCMP have already found that there’s no grounds for criminal charges.

The incident allegedly took place on the morning of Jan. 22.

Dylan Kakfwi, the child’s father, says his seven-year-old was “back-handed” on the torso and knocked to the floor for a short period.

Kakfwi also stated that he has seen video recorded by a camera in the classroom. However, he noted that the video did not show the alleged strike, only his child on the floor.

DDEC superintendent Philippe Brulot declined to comment on the matter, noting that “personnel matters are confidential.”

However, an email from LKES principal Benjamin Adams was circulated to parents of grades two and three students on Feb. 16, confirming that an investigation into the incident is underway.

“You might have heard of a recent incident at LKES involving a teacher and a student in the Grade 2 class,” reads the email, which was forwarded to NNSL Media. “When serious concerns are brought to our attention, they are addressed immediately. Furthermore, they often trigger an investigation, as was the case with this particular incident.”

The email from Adams stated that the teacher in question, who took a leave following the alleged incident, returned to work on Feb. 19, but was moved to another class.

Kakfwi has declined to send his child back to school, noting that he is worried any potential encounters with the teacher in question may “re-traumatize” the child, who he said has needed more attention and affection since the alleged incident.

The Fort Simpson man confirmed that he’s aware of the investigation, and that he and his wife have attended one district education authority meeting where the issue was broached, along with a separate meeting with the school superintendent, but the father added he’s unsatisfied with the “slow” pace of the process.

“We’re trying not to overreact,” he said. “We’re trying to do the right thing about this,” he said. “I feel like they want us to react where we’re going to get into trouble. That’s how I feel right now – that if I go to that school and react in a certain way, then I am punished, where a teacher is not even punished...”

Brulot did not provide any insight as to when or how the current investigation will conclude.

Kakfwi said he hopes that the teacher’s licence will ultimately be “taken away.” He said he sees a need for more training for all educators employed by the board.

“This shouldn’t have even happened,” he said.

He also contacted the RCMP about the alleged incident, he noted.

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Matt Halstead confirmed that the police conducted an investigation into the incident, but stated that “after reviewing all of the available evidence and speaking with those involved,” it was determined that the incident “did not meet the threshold for criminal charges.”

“The assertion of ‘striking’ is not consistent with the findings of the investigation,” Halstead said. “Our investigation is concluded and we will not be providing additional information on this as there are other processes ongoing at the school.”

Tom Taylor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, NWT News/North