Mon. Jan 18th, 2021

Bullying review panel delayed by COVID-19, unclear when …

Bullying review panel delayed by COVID-19, unclear when …

A panel set up to review the way Hamilton’s public school board handles bullying following the death of Devan Selvey has been postponed by COVID-19 and it’s not clear when its final report will be presented.

The three-person Safe Schools Panel was set up to examine how the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) prevents and intervenes when it comes to bullying after Selvey was fatally stabbed behind Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School on Oct. 7.

Two brothers were initially charged in connection with his death — a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old.

The then 14-year-old is still charged with first-degree murder, while charges against the older brother have since been reduced.

The panel had been hosting public sessions for different Hamilton communities in recent months, but announced on March 13 that it would delay those gatherings because all public schools had been closed due to the coronavrius pandemic.

In a letter Wednesday the panel provided an update, saying while an interim report will still be provided to the HWDSB on May 25 a date has not been set for the final report to be submitted.

The panel points to the postponed public sessions as the reason for the delay, but says its members “remain committed to this work.”

It adds the panel and board have met to work out a new schedule and discuss a survey, which was supposed to open in April.

“We have made the difficult decision to postpone the panel’s open online survey … to now take place in the fall,” the letter reads. “This is to ensure the survey has a high engagement rate and is reflective of all communities to allow the panel to make the most appropriate recommendations.”

Third-party investigation also delayed

The HWDSB has also postponed a third-party investigation into Devan’s death, citing a civil lawsuit.

“We have received proper and full notice of an individual’s intent to make a claim for damages against the Board,” wrote spokesperson Shawn McKillop wrote in an email to CBC in early March.

“The pending legal proceeding has delayed the independent third-party investigation.”

The board declined to comment further.

That investigation was part of the pledge the board made after Devan was killed.

Shari-Ann Selvey wears a dolphin pendant with Devan’s ashes. She says delays just add more “heartbreak” following her son’s death. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

News the investigation would be postponed, first reported by the Hamilton Spectator, left Devan’s mom Shari-Ann Selvey disappointed.

“I just don’t understand why they have to put their investigation on hold,” she said at the time. “Between the courts and the school board it’s just adding more heartbreak.”

Public sessions to resume in fall

The panel says its remaining public meetings, including with the racialized community, a general session at Waterdown District High School, will take place in the fall. But the locations and dates won’t be decided until the school closures are over.

Panel-only sessions with advisory chairs, principals, board staff, union leaders and the student senate will also be held sometime in the future.

A crowd of about 90 people came out for the first of bullying review panel session in February. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The panel’s letter ended by thanking everyone who has participated in its work so far.

“We have received a lot of information and the panel is working hard to create recommendations based on your experiences.”

Published at Thu, 09 Apr 2020 01:09:00 +0000

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