HWDSB creates anti-bullying review panel promised after Devan Selvey killing

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board has selected a child psychiatrist, a former COO of Hamilton Health Sciences and a past professor with expertise including anti-racism and social justice to lead a review of how it handles bullying.

The panel will lead a sweeping review of anti-bullying practices at the public board

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School board unanimously approved a plan to set up a three-person panel to review its bullying practices. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) has selected a child psychiatrist, a former COO of Hamilton Health Sciences and a past professor with expertise including anti-racism and social justice as the three community members that will lead a review of how it handles bullying.

Trustees voted unanimously in support of setting up the independent, three-person panel following the death of Devan Selvey, who was stabbed to death by another student outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School on Oct. 7.

"We take the safety and well-being of our students and staff seriously and know that, as the Board of Trustees, we can always do more to help improve the communities where we live and work," stated board chair Alex Johnstone in a media release announcing the appointments. 

"The review panel will provide us with guidance and advice on bullying prevention strategies and tactics, so that we have the best practices and tools to make our students and staff feel safe, supported and accepted."

The HWDSB describes the group as a "specialized team with diverse backgrounds and significant experience in children's health and well-being, child psychology ... and an understanding of school board operations."

The trio will be responsible for leading the Safe Schools: Bullying Prevention and Intervention Review Panel, along with a consulting firm the HWDSB says will be supported by advisors and experts in bullying, mental health and special education.

The panel is tasked with providing feedback and recommendations on four areas around bullying — prevention, intervention, reporting and responding.

Here's a look at the three people who will lead the panel:

Jean Clinton

Jean Clinton. (Submitted)

Clinton is a clinical professor in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University in the Child Psychiatry divisions. The board describes her as someone who is  "renowned nationally and internationally as an advocate for children's issues" and has consulted on children and youth mental health programs and child welfare. Clinton was also an advisor to the premier of Ontario and the minister of education from 2014 to 2018 and has lived in Hamilton since 1965.

Gary Warner

Gary Warner. (Submitted)

Warner is a former professor and administrator at McMaster who the HWDSB describes as an "award winning, dedicated and respected member of the Hamilton community with more than 45 years of experience with issues related to international development, peace, poverty, human rights, anti-racism, immigration and social justice." His past experience includes chairing the Working Committee of Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative, acting as a member of the governing council of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and sitting on the steering committee of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction.

Brenda Flaherty

Brenda Flaherty. (Carole & Roy Timm Photography ©)

Flaherty is a former health leader at Hamilton Health Sciences and currently works as an assistant professor at McMaster's school of nursing. The HWDSB says she has "extensive board experience" with community development and well-being groups including the YMCA and the North Hamilton Community Health Centre. She was born and raised in Hamilton and still lives in the city.

Report expected in May

The board says the panel will also be able to work with independent experts including the former director of special education for the province, a psychology professor, clinical child psychologist and a Canada Research Chair in school-based mental health and violence prevention.

Additional support will be provided by the KOJO Institute, a consultancy with expertise in equity, human rights and anti-racism, according to the HWDSB.

The panel's report is expected in May 2020 when it will be shared with the board of trustees and public.