Monday, February 9, 2015

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: SCHOOL BOARD RESPONDS TO NLFSC PROPOSAL


                                                                                              
"Frankly, the Carey's Bus Situation has
 highlighted a very serious deficiency with
 regards to adequate policies to keep
 our children  safe from perverts and
 predators that prey on the vulnerable" 

Peter Whittle
President
NLFSC

                                                                                                                                  

I caused a little bit of a stir on Friday by calling on the Department of Education to ensure that all individuals that come into contact with school children provide a venerable sector check on an annual basis before employment begins.

The NL Federation of School Councils has been urging government and school boards to tighten-up background checks for every staffer and volunteer that comes into contact with our children. 

Volunteers like me who assist with Kids Breakfast Programs, coach, teach chess, debating, fund-raise are expected by board policy to produce an annual vulnerable sector check. Why, because the board wants to "protect our children. Similar policies are the norm in many not-for-profit organizations from churches to the Scouts. Insurance policies will not be honored if organizations do not carry out due diligence procedures to protect children from abuse. 

Every bus driver, janitor, teacher, teaching assistant, SEOs, secretary,, maintenance person and volunteer that has contact with our children should have to provide an annual vulnerable sector checkNew employees and substitute teachers  must submit police checks, but once you are on the payroll on a permanent basis, there is no requirement for an update.

 I would have thought a common sense measure like this would have been standard operating procedure. However, currently it is not, the oft refrain from boards in the past has been costs and logistics. 

Frankly, I am surprised that the Auditor General has not questioned the lack of an annual police check for all public employees and contract employees that come into contact with our school children. From a tax payer and public administration point of view, it would appear to leave the province open to a potential liability.

 After years of requesting that the boards enhance their protocols on an annual clearance letter, it appears that common sense and the legitimate concerns about the loopholes,cracks and lack of due diligence are being taken seriously.

The CEO of the English School Board told the Telegram and VOCM that his organization is exploring options to tighten up the process. With principles, vice-principals, administrators and human resource experts one would think this would be a pretty straight forward process.

If there are costs, the government, employees, or contractors should be expected pay their own freight without putting extra financial burdens on an education system that is financially challenged. It would be unacceptable to me that existing board resources be diverted away from the classrooms or programming.  

I would like now to ask the provincial government if they will assist the two boards in this province in putting a process in place for September 2016.




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