PEI

School board says boy's broken leg appears to be result of 'rough play'

The French Language School Board says it appears that a 12-year-old boy's broken leg was not the result of bullying, while police say it was "impossible to determine" intent.

Mother of 12-year-old still feels injury was the result of bullying

The French Language School Board says it appears a boy's broken leg was the result of 'rough play' at École François-Buote. (Submitted by Rose-Lune Goulet)

The French Language School Board says it appears that a 12-year-old boy's broken leg was not the result of bullying, while police say it was "impossible to determine" intent.

The boy is a student at École François-Buote in Charlottetown. His mother, Rose-Lune Goulet, said earlier this week she believed his broken leg, injured during morning recess last week, was the result of bullying. She said her son, who has autism, experienced bullying before.

During an investigation school staff, and later police, talked to students who were on the playground that day. The school board then determined that the boy's broken leg was the result of "rough play" during a school yard game, according to superintendent Anne Bernard-Bourgeois.

"It appeared that in this particular incident, this was not a bullying incident and that no one at play with the child seemed to have the intent ... to bully or to harm the child," Bernard-Bourgeois said. However the superintendent did acknowledge it's difficult to know what someone's intent is. "It's hard to determine what people are thinking when they're acting," she said. 

'Impossible to determine'

A Charlottetown police officer was called in to participate in the investigation, in what police described as a support role. Const. Tim Keizer talked with students at the school, and to Goulet's son.

Rose-Lune Goulet's son required surgery and was in hospital for several days. (Submitted by Rose-Lune Goulet)

Keizer told CBC it wasn't a formal police investigation, and that he wasn't able to determine whether the incident was the result of bullying given the young age of the children. He felt the situation was, however, an opportunity to do further education and reinforce a hands-off policy.

Charlottetown Deputy Chief Brad McConnell quoted from the police incident report which said it was "impossible to determine if there was any intent to injure during the course of the game."

'I will believe my son'

Meanwhile the boy's mother is still convinced her son's injury was the result of bullying.

"My son has spoke to me, he explained to me what occurred. I will believe my son until the day I die," Goulet said.   

However Goulet acknowledges that with different stories from people on the playground that day, it would be difficult for the school board to determine what happened.

"I know we're probably never going to get to the bottom of the accident that happened that broke my son's leg. So I have to move on from that. But there was a lot of bullying prior to this incident ... So I'm going to focus on making awareness on bullying," Goulet said. 

Rose-Lune Goulet still believes her son was injured as a result of bullying. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

She said it will be difficult for her son to go back to school but she'll work with the school and other parents involved.

Bernard-Bourgeois said after March break, the board will be re-examining its playground policies and practices to ensure children are safe. The school will be talking with the family again about the incident and their concerns. She said the school also wants to ensure that "if there was bullying in the past that it stops." 

"We're very concerned about the severity of the incident and we're very concerned about our student and we're concerned about some of the concerns the parents brought to us," she said. "We're also very concerned about what things look like on the playground and how that play looks."

P.E.I. French Language School Board Superintendent Anne Bernard-Bourgeois says they will be re-examining playground policies in light of the incident. (CBC)

Bernard-Bourgeois added the school will do everything it can to make the student welcome when he comes back to class after his injury.

"The school will do whatever it needs to, to make sure the child feels comfortable and that the family feels reassured and we'll do whatever we can on our end to do the same as well if there are any concerns."

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With files from Laura Meader, Brian Higgins, Donna Allen and Sarah MacMillan