Saskatoon

Staff members at North Battleford, Sask., school sent home after allegations of bad behaviour on social media

The Light of Christ Catholic Schools division says it dealt with an "internal personnel issue" at Holy Family School in North Battleford but would not say the result of the investigation or how many staff members were involved.

The Light of Christ Catholic Schools division is releasing little information about the incident

Officials at Light of Christ School Division say some staff members were sent home with pay as the division conducted an investigation at Holy Family School in North Battleford toward the end of 2019. (Holy Family School/Facebook)

Staff members at Holy Family School in North Battleford were sent home with pay from Nov. 15-Dec. 3, 2019 after allegations of bad behaviour on social media.

The Light of Christ Catholic Schools division says it dealt with an "internal personnel issue" at Holy Family School in North Battleford during that time but would not say the result of the investigation or how many staff members were involved.

"The issue had to deal solely with negative interactions and inappropriate communications between select staff members on a social media platform," said Light of Christ in a statement sent from the division's director of education, Cory Rideout.

"The personal safety and well-being of students, and the quality of instruction provided by the staff at the school was not a concern." 

The division said the staff members were "assigned to home" as the division investigated the matter and determined "how best to resolve the issue."

The statement noted this was done to "protect the integrity of the investigation and to reduce any potential interruptions of the day-to-day operation of the school." 

Light of Christ noted in the statement that representatives from the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation were notified of the issue and fully participated in the process, while support staff involved were also given a chance to have representation present during the investigation. 

Rideout said that parents were notified about the investigation and the statement said "every arrangement was made to ensure that the high level of classroom instruction and programming all our parents and our community are accustomed to and deserve, continued uninterrupted."

He would not answer follow-up questions on whether or not staff members involved in the investigation have returned to work.

Division not required to report incident

In Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board (SPTRB) is responsible for regulating the teaching profession and investigating allegations of misconduct or incompetence. 

However, Trevor Smith, the chief operating officer and registrar of the SPTRB said it is possible for matters to be dealt with internally. 

He said employers do have a duty to report to the SPTRB when there is a suspension, termination, resignation or retirement from employment due to conduct the employer reasonably believes constitutes professional incompetence or professional misconduct — but not when a teacher is assigned to home.

"They have not been suspended, so under the Registered Teachers Act, an employer is not required to make a report to the SPTRB in that situation," he said. 

"The school division wasn't concerned about any potential harm to students and/or the quality of their instruction, and that is our primary concern: the protection of the public and the students served by the teaching profession."

Smith said it's up to the division to determine if the behaviour of staff qualifies as misconduct, which is outlined by law as behaviour that is "harmful to the best interests of students or other members of the public, it tends to harm the standing of the profession, it is a breach of the Registered Teachers Act or it's a failure to comply with an order of the professional conduct committee." 

In a statement sent to CBC, the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation said its mandate is to provide advice and assistance to members in their professional duties and relationships, and it is not able to provide comment on specific instances.

In the statement from Light of Christ, the Division commended staff at Holy Family for their professionalism during the investigation. 

"In keeping with our core values, and our goal to become a strengths-based organization, we are strongly committed to fostering schools that are positive, engaging and respectful places to learn and work," the statement explained. 

"Promoting the dignity and potential of everyone in our schools is among our highest priorities." 

Light of Christ School Division governs seven schools in the North Battleford area. 

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