By Kathy Yanchus • REVIEW STAFF
Introduced as “good news,” the Suspension, Expulsion and Violent Incident Report was presented to the Religion, Family Life and Instructional Services committee of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board on Dec. 18.
“We are very pleased to see that the statistics on suspensions, expulsions and violent incidents within our board have improved since the last report,” commented Jackie Bajus, superintendent of Education.
Bajus believed the improvement reflected the successful cooperation between students themselves, the caring and professionalism of staff and the support of parents, “who are really trying to work with our young people to make sure they take responsibility for their actions.”
“Certainly we want to see it even better than the way it is right now but there are some good progresses that have been made,” said Bajus.
Under suspensions, there was more than a 7 per cent decrease in number of suspensions over the 2010/11 data – the lowest total since the introduction of Safe Schools legislation in 2000 – said Bajus. There were also 28 per cent fewer suspensions for students with exceptionalities, one less expulsion and nine fewer violent incidences. According to the HWCDSB web site, a violent incident is one which involves a credible threat to inflict serious bodily harm or vandalism causing extensive damage to Board property.
Fewer suspended students attended alternative board programs, the Program to Assist Student Success (PASS) and the Student Opportunity to Achieve Re-entry (SOAR).
“Despite endeavours to try to ensure young people who have been expelled get the supports they needed, there have been occasions where some people have not taken that opportunity to get the extra support that our programs offer,” said Bajus.
“Our obligation as a board is to encourage the students to attend the alternative program,” said Des Brennan, manager of social work services. “It is not incumbent upon the student to attend the program. Once they’re expelled, should they then choose to not attend, it becomes their responsibility to seek the re-entry requirements to get them back into school and they would probably have to do that through community organizations and programs to satisfy the board that they have indeed made changes in their life.”