Hamilton public school board votes to approve report on bullying

·2 min read

Hamilton’s public school board trustees voted unanimously to accept a long-awaited report on bullying late Monday at a board meeting.

But, as the report’s recommendations indicate, the work has just begun.

“While this report concludes months of consultation, it does not end the work required to address bullying in our schools and in our society,” panel members Dr. Jean Clinton, Brenda Flaherty, and Dr. Gary Warner said in a statement. “It begins the call to action.”

The panel heard from thousands of students, parents, teachers and community members about bullying, culminating in a 102-page Safe Schools: Bullying Prevention and Intervention Review Panel report released Friday.

The report, which was presented to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board at a Jan. 25 meeting, includes both long- and short-term goals to the board and its community. Immediate action items include wide distribution of the report, establishing a “lead position” responsible for implementation and collecting and monitoring bullying data at the school level.

The motion to accept the report and its recommendations was moved by Ward 3 trustee Maria Felix Miller and seconded by Ward 15 trustee Penny Deathe.

Ward 4 trustee Ray Mulholland and Ward 5 trustee Carole Paikin Miller were absent for the vote.

Following questions and comments from trustees, board chair Dawn Danko thanked the panel for “reminding us the importance of having the students at the centre of everything we do and that we are all called to act.”

“This is a systemic issue that has persisted for decades, and longer I’m sure, that we now have some concrete action items that we can take and use to actually make a difference,” she said. “And that, I think, is incredibly exciting.”

The panel was assembled by the HWDSB after the death of 14-year-old Devan Selvey, who was stabbed outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in October 2019.

“The conversation his death inspired was hard to hear, but reinforced our belief that we have a moral responsibility to help all students feel safe, supported and accepted,” said education director Manny Figueiredo. “The next steps are about change.”

Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator