Families should be told about criminal investigations in schools, Opposition demands
MLA says students, parents should have been notified regarding sex charges against teacher
The Official Opposition is calling for a review of policies followed by the Public Schools Branch, saying parents and students should be notified of criminal investigations involving school personnel.
On Wednesday PC education critic Stephen Myers raised the issue of a teacher currently facing multiple counts of sexual assault and sexual interference involving complainants under the age of 16.
- Music teacher Roger Jabbour charged with sexual assault, interference
- High school music teacher Roger Jabbour faces additional sex-related charges
Those allegations have not been proven in court.
Government says Colonel Gray band teacher Roger Jabbour, was placed on administrative leave as soon as the allegations came forward.
But Myers says that's not what parents and students were told.
'I think the parents deserve to know'
"Your staff initially told the parents that the teacher was put out on medical leave; that he had a sore back," Myers told Education Minister Jordan Brown during question period. "Not that they were the focus on ongoing sexual investigation into sexual assault and interference involving youth."
I think that the education system has the responsibility to notify parents when something like that goes on.—Steven Myers
Myers added, "I was waiting for all the parents to find out from the school that this was happening so they could go home and check with their own children."
Myers said families only learned about the charges through media reports.
"I think the parents deserve to know long before it made the media," he reiterated to Brown.
"There is a balancing that needs to occur when this type of event takes place," Brown replied.
"The first and foremost consideration is the safety of students and staff. That's why, if there is a serious criminal allegation such as that, the Public Schools Branch, in this case, would look at suspension of the individual," Brown said.
"You have to keep in mind that there is a presumption of innocence in this country and we can't be going off on the basis of allegations making statements that don't have a foundation in fact," he continued.
Myers calls on Public Schools Branch to notify parents
A government spokesperson later provided a timeline of that suspension via email, stating that "on Friday, June 16, the PSB became aware of a concern relating to the individual who is alleged to have committed the offences in question."
"On Sunday, June 18, he was informed not to return to class on Monday and was subsequently placed on administrative leave. The teacher has not returned to school since," the statement continued.
But as for notifying parents and students at the school, the spokesperson said public notice was provided by Charlottetown Police, who issued a short media release on the police department's website on Sept. 7 stating a 65-year-old man had been charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference.
Neither the man's name nor the fact he was a schoolteacher was mentioned in the statement.
"That really doesn't have anything to do with notifying parents," Myers said of the police statement.
"I think that the education system has the responsibility to notify parents when something like that goes on."