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Five investigations of sexual misconduct in P.E.I. schools over past two years

Assistant director Erin Johnston, left, and Terri MacAdam, the director of students services for the Public Schools Branch give a presentation to the legislative standing committee on education and economic growth on the branch's new new Safe and Caring Learning Environments Policy and Procedures.
Assistant director Erin Johnston, left, and Terri MacAdam, the director of students services for the Public Schools Branch give a presentation to the legislative standing committee on education and economic growth on the branch's new new Safe and Caring Learning Environments Policy and Procedures. - Ernesto Carranza
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

There have been five investigations into sexual and physical behaviour between staff and students in Island schools over the past two years.

Those figures were presented to the legislative standing committee on education and economic growth on Tuesday. And, the director of student services for the Public Schools Branch says her department has looked into every one of them.

“There is always actions, sometimes it is a conversation, it is a progression of discipline with staff as well as students,” said Terri MacAdam in an interview after the presentation.

She said she could not comment on any one specific case but said all five outcomes resulted in disciplinary actions ranging from conversations with those involved to full dismissal.

MacAdam has been the director for the past two years and told the committee she takes every allegation and report she receives seriously. She said she did not inherit any prior reports or allegations of inappropriate sexual or physical behaviour.

The presentation was to inform the committee on what the Public Schools Branch has been doing with their new Safe and Caring Learning Environments Policy and Procedures.

The policies included public consultations and finally revisions in 2018, which have led to discussion between the Public Schools Branch and principals, unions, bus drivers and recently, Colonel Gray parents.

Former P.E.I. high school music teacher Roger Jabbour stands outside the provincial courthouse in Charlottetown in this 2018 Saltwire file photo.
Former P.E.I. high school music teacher Roger Jabbour stands outside the provincial courthouse in Charlottetown in this 2018 Saltwire file photo.

Principals were given the task of talking about these policies with staff and students.

The policies specifically outline steps to address sexual misconduct between student to student, student to staff and staff to student.

MacAdam told the committee that any sexual misconduct between staff would fall under human resources.

She said that depending on each individual allegation and report, Child and Family Services or police may be involved, and allegations and reports are not limited solely to inside schools.

After the presentation, MLAs questioned MacAdam and assistant director of student services Erin Johnston.

“So we’ve have seen that members of the public state in the media they have reported inappropriate behaviour, but were not sure if any actions was taken, how could this be?” asked MLA Michelle Beaton.

MacAdam said she couldn’t speak to a situation and said any allegations or reports have been investigated during her time as director.

“Has there been anything in place before (these policies),” said MLA Cory Deagle. MacAdam said that nothing as formal as these policies have been put in place before 2017.

“I’m just curious, in the case of Roger Jabbour, if something like this had of been in place, I am not sure how some of these incidents weren’t reported to police.”

Former high school music teacher Roger Jabbour was convicted of three sex offences against former students in late January.

He was sentenced to 15 months in jail and 18 months on probation after his release.

Referring back to Beaton’s earlier comments, Deagle said it seemed clear what students were telling school officials.

“Perhaps if we were following a policy like this, this would have been caught a lot earlier and not 30 years into his teaching career … that’s my comment on that,” he said.

Twitter.com/Ernesto_Carranz


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