School board to create task force after parents complain about assault, sexual harassment

School board to create task force after parents complain about assault, sexual harassment

The Kamloops-Thompson School District is creating a student safety task force after superintendent Alison Sidow says she heard complaints from two parents over the handling of schoolyard incidents of sexual harassment and abuse.

She says she can't reveal information about any student in the district due to privacy issues, but confirmed the complaints do not involve teachers.

"I can tell you that our staff did initiate the policies and protocols as they are stated. I can tell you that the way we handled that event is being investigated thoroughly," she said.

'Personally shaken'

Earlier this month, a Kamloops mother told a media organization that her elementary-school-aged daughter was groped and struck by a group of four boys during recess.

"I personally was shaken by the reports from parents, as were my staff," said Sidow.  

She says the parent spoke to media before contacting her and she feels the process could be improved.

On Monday night, Sidow will be presenting an outline to the board about how to improve student safety that includes the creation of a task force.

"We do have policies and protocols to address the needs of the aggressor as well as the victim, but I think we could do a better job in terms of outlining how we respond to the victim's needs… so the task force will be focused on doing just that, reviewing policies, protocols."

Sidow says she hopes it will include community partners like the RCMP, parents and sexual assault groups in the city.

So far, the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counseling Centre, Kamloops Thompson Teachers' Association and the RCMP say they have not been approached to participate.

Task force part of larger movement

​Sidow says the creation of this task force is about tackling larger societal issues that are being discussed through initiatives like the #MeToo movement.

"We would be naive to believe that there aren't situations that occur where women or where girls don't feel safe or where their rights and dignity are violated," said Sidow

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