Allegations of students being physically restrained and confined at Jack Hulland Elementary School has led to discussion on the legislature floor and investigations by the RCMP and Yukon’s Child and Family Advocate.
The issue of violence and other troubling behaviour at the elementary school was raised in the Yukon Legislature by opposition MLAs earlier this month. A letter tabled in the legislature described two incidents that took place on the same day in early November. It described an evacuation of the school after a student pulled a fire alarm and an outburst by a different student which included the breaking of an interior window. The second incident led to a hold and secure at the school and the note tabled indicates some students may have witnessed violence toward a staff member.
Other troubling incidents at the school and the response to them were discussed in the legislature at that time.
Trouble at the school came up again at the legislature on Nov. 22.
Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent stated that Jack Hulland parents are looking for some immediate action. He inquired about moving the Grove Street program out of the school, which is a supported education initiative for students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Education Minister Jeanie McLean replied that she had heard directly about the trouble at Jack Hulland at recent meetings, including one with the school council that also included administrators, family members and staff.
“I want to talk about where we are at today. Information has recently come to light that the use of holds and physical intervention being used to manage student behaviour at Jack Hulland may be in breach of school policies and possibly the Criminal Code of Canada. This information has been reported now to the RCMP and Family and Children Services. We understand that an investigation is now underway,” McLean said.
She added that the Department of Education is reviewing workplace risk assessments at Jack Hulland, including the Grove Street program.
“We will continue to work with parents to address their concerns regarding the management of student behaviour, including the recommendations that they have provided for moving forward together,” McLean said.
The Whitehorse RCMP confirmed they have launched an investigation after they were made aware of the alleged use of restraints on Nov. 19.
Cst. Carlie McCann, an RCMP spokesperson, said the investigation was started immediately but offered no further comment on the unfolding police work. McCann said an update on the investigation’s progress would be forthcoming.
The Yukon Child and Youth Advocate office announced its involvement on Nov. 23. It is launching a review in response to the use of restraints and confinement at the school.
“The systemic issue of physical restraint and confinement at Jack Hulland raises a substantial question of public concern for students, particularly students with special needs,” said Annette King, the territory’s child and youth advocate.
“We are alarmed by how many rights are violated by these alleged practices, and will structure our review according to how the government responds.”
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org