Union questions board action on lockdown, toy gun incident in Kapuskasing

The union representing high school teachers is still seeking answers about the events leading up to last week’s lockdown at Kapuskasing District High School.
The union representing teachers at Kapuskasing District High School says it still has questions after a 15-year-old was arrested for allegedly making threats. (District School Board Ontario North East)

The union representing high school teachers is still seeking answers about the events leading up to last week's lockdown at Kapuskasing District High School.

No injuries were reported, but a 15-year-old student was arrested for allegedly making threats.

The student is the same one who was suspended for bringing a toy gun to school in January.

At that time, both the school and the Ministry of Labour said there was no threat to public safety. But the ministry is now demanding the high school conduct a workplace violence risk assessment.

Derek Beland, with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, says that doesn't go far enough.

"I have three daughters who attend schools here in the northeast and it certainly raises concerns for me as a parent," he said.

"I hope that those substandard services we've seen in Kap are not pervasive across the northeast, but we're going to find out."

'Should have been handled more seriously'

Beland says the union thinks the school principal waited too long to contact police, adding that the teacher who first reported the incident back in January saw a shiny metallic object, not a plastic gun.

The school board maintains hallway video of the original incident was inconclusive.

"In the heat of the moment on January 23, whether it's a replica or a real gun, or whether the video shows it to be either, you have to deal with it in a way that assumes it's a real gun," Beland said.

"Even if the video didn't exist, that should have been handled more seriously."

Beland says the union is filing an appeal to review how both the school and the province handled events leading up to the lockdown.

With files from Benjamin Aubé