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November 17, 2010 - Education/Human Resources Committee Minutes
Education/Human Resources Committee
November 17, 2010

        A meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee was held in the Board Room at the Limestone Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, on Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at 4:30 p.m.
Present Trustees:
H. Brown, Chair
H. Chadwick
A. Goodfellow                                                                            
D. Jackson
B. McLaren
Present Staff:
K. Burra, Assistant to the Director, Safe Schools
D. Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
A. Labrie, Superintendent of Human Resources
N. Marsh, Superintendent of Education
S. McWilliams, Manager of Human Resources       
        Chair Brown called the meeting to order, welcoming those present to meeting.  She reported that regrets were received from Trustee Murray and Superintendent Fraser-Stiff.

Approval of Agenda                                                                              

        Chair Brown advised that the item concerning Expanded Opportunities in Limestone is to be deferred to the January 19, 2011 meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee.
        MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, that the agenda, as amended, be approved.–Carried

Bill 168 “Violence and Harassment in the Workplace”

        Manager McWilliams stated that Bill 168 “Violence and Harassment in the Workplace” is all encompassing and is a result of amendments made to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  She indicated that this new legislation applies to staff, students, volunteers, parents,  Trustees, and members of the broader school community.

        Ms. McWilliams stated that the information she is presenting today is what the Board has done to comply with the procedures of the Act.  She stated that the Board developed a narrated Power Point presentation that has been rolled out to all regular and occasional/casual employees.

        Manager McWilliams reviewed the following information regarding Bill 168 “Violence and Harassment in the Workplace”:

Purpose & Intent

•     Effective June 15, 2010, amendments were made to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act to include workplace violence and workplace harassment
•     Legislation requires employees to be provided information and instruction that is appropriate for employees on the contents of the Board’s Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment Policies and Procedures

LDSB Commitment

•     June 2010, new workplace violence and harassment procedures communicated to all staff
•     LDSB is committed to providing a working and learning environment free from workplace violence and harassment
•     Violence and harassment in the workplace are unacceptable and will not be tolerated

Worker defined as a person who performs work for the Limestone District School board or supplies services to the Board for monetary compensation

Workplace defined as any land, premise, location or thing at, upon, in or near which a worker works.  This includes work vehicles, field trip locations, extra-curricular activities, retreat locations, home visits, as well as workplace social events.

Workplace Violence defined as:
        •     The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker
        •     Attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker
        •     A statement or behaviour that a worker could reasonably interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker

What is Workplace Violence?

•     Verbally threatening to attack staff
•     Shaking a fist in an employee’s face
•     Wielding a weapon at work
•     Hitting or trying to hit an employee
•     Throwing an object at an employee
•     Leaving threatening messages and/or notes or sending threatening e-mails
•     Sexual violence against an employee

Is Intent Necessary?

No, although there may not be an intent to harm, the use of physical fore would cause injury to the employee.  For example, two students who are fighting cause an employee who tries to intervene to be injured.

Domestic Violence

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Domestic Violence is considered “workplace violence” when a person in a personal relationship with an employee (such asa spouse or former spouse, current or former intimate partner or family member) physically harms, attempts or threatens to physically harm that employee at work.

Responsibilities Specific to Domestic Violence

•     Employees who have information that domestic violence is likely to expose themselves or other employees to physical injury in the workplace have the responsibility to inform their supervisor or a person in a position of authority with whom they are comfortable
•     Actively participate in safe work measures related to domestic violence

The Board
•     If an employer becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence that would likely expose an employee to physical injury may occur in the workplace, the employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the employee.

Reporting Workplace Violence

•     Employees subjected to or who have witnessed workplace violence, must file a report and provide a copy to their immediate supervisor
•     The Employee Workplace Accident/Incident Reporting Form is on FirstClass→LDSB Area→Staff Services→Forms→Facility Services
•     Employees are encouraged to contact their Union/Federation/Association for support

Risk Factors in Education

•     Working with aggressive and potentially volatile student populations
•     Working with aggressive and potentially volatile parents
•     Handling cash (i.e. fundraising activities)
•     Working alone(i.e. custodial staff, after hours entry to school)
•     Workplace location within the community
•     Transporting people/students
•     Home visits
•     Interacting with the general public

Assessing Risk

•     Risk is linked to the nature/type of work and the condition of the workplace
•     Risk assessment takes into consideration:
        •     Circumstances common to similar workplaces;
        •     Circumstances specific to the workplace; and
        •     Other prescribed occupational health and safety elements
•     Results of the workplace violence risk assessment are to be provided to the Joint Health and Safety Committee(s)

Risk Response

Prevention and mitigation of workplace violence may include the following strategies:

•     Safety Planning – sign in procedures, safety plans, identification badges
•     Individual response to situations
        •     Prevention/avoidance
        •     De-escalation
        •     Personal safety

Risk Assessment and Control Process

The program or process used to establish preventative and corrective measures aimed at ensuring a safe working and learning environment includes:

•     Preventative measures
•     Responsive measures
•     Review and follow-up measures

Safe Work Plan

•     When a risk is identified and it has been determined that the potential for violence exists, the principal/supervisor, in collaboration with the employee, will develop a safe work plan
•     If the situation has the potential to place other staff members at risk, the principal/supervisor must inform the other employees

Persons with a History of Violent Behaviour

Supervisors must provide employees with information related to a risk of workplace violence from a person with a history of violent behaviour if:

•     the employee will encounter the person in the course of their employment
•     the risk of workplace violence is likely to expose the employee to physical injury

Summoning Assistance

•     All employees who work where a potential risk has been identified must have the means to summon immediate assistance
•     Depending on the nature, location and level of risk, assistance may include:
        •     Summoning immediate assistance from your supervisor, a co-worker, or other employee
        •     Summoning a site emergency response team
        •     Summoning assistance through “911"

Controls for Student Violent Behaviour

•     Some students can exhibit patterns of violence or have a history of violent behaviour
•     Employees who work with these students must be advised about the potential for violence

Responding to Student Violent Behaviour

The following provide employees with necessary information where violence is a concern:

•     Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
•     Individual safety plans
•     Specific instruction in dealing with aggressive behaviours
•     Personal protective equipment
•     Other documentation or instruction that may relate to your job function

Student Violent Behaviour

•     If a student commits an act of violence, with the intent to cause harm, the incident is covered by the Board’s Violence in the Workplace Procedure and the Board’s Community Threat Assessment Protocol
•     If the student does not have the capacity to understand “intent”, and their behaviour is part of their condition, the violent act is also addressed under Safe Schools and the required plans for managing student behaviour apply

Review and Follow-Up

When violence occurs in the workplace, it must be investigated and reviewed to determine:
•     What caused the violent incident?
•     What interim measures should be implemented?
•     Does a safety plan exist?  Is so, what changes or improvements need to be made?
•     What ongoing measures need to be put in place to improve the level of safety for the employee?
•     What supports are needed for the employee?

Work Refusal

•     Right to refuse where there is reason to believe one may be endangered by workplace violence
•     Work cannot be refused under the grounds of workplace harassment
•     Teachers have limited right to refuse
•     Must comply with “Duty of Care” responsibilities under the Education Act
•     The Board has a process for work refusals

Workplace Harassment defined as engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known to be unwelcome.
                                                Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 1, (1) Definitions

What is Workplace Harassment?

Types of harassment that workers could experience include:

•     Unwelcome, intimidating or offensive jokes, gestures, phone calls
•     Sexual harassment
•     Teasing, bullying
•     Display or circulation of offensive materials or pictures

Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) Harassment

Improper comment or conduct based on one or more of the prohibited grounds listed in the Ontario Human Rights Code

Personal Harassment is non-code related.  It is improper comments and/or conduct, not related to a legitimate work purpose, directed at and offensive to another person or persons in the workplace that the individual knows or ought to reasonably know would offend, harm or is derogatory, demeaning or causes humiliation or embarrassment.

What is Personal Harassment?

•     Remarks, jokes or innuendoes that demean, ridicule, intimidate or offend
•     Regular use of profanity/abusive language
•     Teasing, targeting individuals in humiliating practical jokes
•     Unwanted physical contact (i.e. hugging, rubbing someone’s back/arm)
•     Spreading gossip, rumours, negative blogging, cyber bullying
•     Retaliation, bullying, sabotaging

Personal Harassment is not:

•     Legitimate performance management
•     Appropriate exercise and delegation of managerial authority
•     Operational directives
•     A disagreement or misunderstanding
•     Appropriate discipline
•     Differences of opinion/minor disagreements between staff
•     Work-related change of location, job assignment

Reporting Workplace Harassment

•     Employees who believe they have been harassed may file a report as may those who have witnessed harassment
•     Includes personal harassment and/or “other objectionable behaviour” in addition to the strict grounds covered under the Ontario Human Rights Code
•     Report must be made within six months of the most recent incident
•     Formal reports will be forwarded to Human Resources
Bill 168 “Violence and Harassment in the Workplace” (continued)

•     Threshold assessment is conducted to determine if the allegation, if proven, meets the definition of harassment
•     Insufficient information, trivial/frivolous or anonymous allegation will not be investigate

Investigation Outcomes

Consequences for engaging in harassing behaviour or any form of reprisal may include:

•     An apology
•     Counselling
•     Education and/or training
•     Verbal or written reprimand
•     Suspension
•     Transfer
•     Dismissal

        Ms. McWilliams reviewed the five steps of the internal responsibility system.


The legislation applies to all Board employees, students, Trustees, other clients of the Board, parents/legal guardians, volunteers, permit holders and contractors.

Role of the Ministry of Labour

Ministry of Labour (MOL) health and safety inspectors will:

•     Enforce the OHSA provision for workplace violence and workplace harassment
•     As the focus of the requirements is on employer duties, MOL inspectors will determine whether or not employers are complying with these duties and following due diligence in taking every reasonable precaution

Other Related Legislation

•    Education Act
•    Safe Schools Act – Bill 157
•    Child and Family Services Act
•    Youth Criminal Justice Act
•    Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act
•    Ontario Human Rights Code
•    Workplace Safety and Insurance At
•    Criminal Code

Related Board Procedures

•     Occupational Health & Safety
•     Safe Schools
•     Community Threat Assessment Protocol
•     Lockdown Procedures
•     Harassment, Discrimination & Human Rights
•     Equity & Inclusion
•     Misconduct

Next Steps

•     Continue roll-out of presentation to all staff
•     Post presentation on E-Training site
•     Share results of Workplace Violence Risk Assessment Survey
•     Continue Facility Risk Assessment inspections
•     Share findings with Senior Staff and Joint Health and Safety Committee
•     Identify action items, as appropriate
•     Continue staff training in BMS and other strategies/techniques

        Chair Brown thanked Manager McWilliams for her excellent presentation of the above-noted information.
Safe Schools Report

        Mr. Burra indicated that 2010 was a busy year with regard to Safe Schools, as a result of the legislation enacted in February 2010.

        Mr. Burra provided a Safe Schools report, as follows:

Bill 157 Review

•     Requirement of Delegation of Authority
•     Mandatory Reporting and Responding (all offences subject to potential suspension or expulsion)
•     Notice to Parent of Victim: Principals must inform the parents of students who have been harmed as a result of any incident for which suspension or expulsion are considered.  Principals must disclose the nature of the activity that resulted in harm to the student, the nature of the harm, and the steps being taken to protect the student’s safety, including any disciplinary measures, but not any personal information including the “perpetrator’s name”.  When do you not disclose?
•     Providing supports to students who have been victimized
•     For a student with special education needs, interventions, supports and consequences must be consistent with the student’s strengths and needs in his or her Individual Education Plan (IEP)
•     Board employees who work directly with students are expected to support all students, including those who report such incidents
•     Providing them with contact information about professional supports (public health, community agencies and Help Phone lines)
•     Principals must refer students to a community agency that can provide the appropriate type of confidential support when the victim’s parents are not called
•     For example, sexual assault centre, Kids Help Phone, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Youth Line

Prevention & Awareness Raising

•     P/PM 145: “In order to promote a positive school climate, school boards must provide opportunities for all members of the school community to increase their knowledge and understanding of such issues as homophobia, gender-based violence, sexual harassment, inappropriate sexual behaviour, critical media literacy, and safe internet use.  Ontario’s curriculum provides many opportunities for students to develop an understanding of these topics.  Boards must also help school staff to give support to students who wish to participate in gay-straight alliances and in other student-led activities that promote understanding and development of healthy relationships.  Schools must also engage their school councils and student councils to support these student-led activities.”
•     AP 353: “Members of school communities will be provided with opportunities to increase their knowledge and understanding of such issues as homophobia, gender-based violence, sexual harassment, inappropriate sexual behaviour, critical media literacy, and safe Internet use.”

Bill 168 Occupational Health and Safety – Violence in the Workplace

•     Disclosure and Safe Schools Issues:
        Supervisors must provide employees with information related to a risk of workplace violence from a person with a history of violent behavior if the employee will encounter the person in the course of their employment
        •     Be mindful of any incident involving the use or threat of violence against a staff member
        •     Incidents require follow-up in terms of warning occasional staff
        •     Behavioural Plans/Safety Plans will need to be updated or created
        •     Err on the side of more disclosure if you are not sure, but ensure you consult

Safe Schools Action Team, 2008

•     “There is a direct link between success in school and the school environment in which student learning takes place.  Students are more motivated to do well and achieve their full potential in schools that have a positive school culture and one in which they feel safe and supported.”
•     John Hattie’s Visible Learning, 2009 ranks the classroom behavioural context sixth with an effect size of 0.8 – a strong showing within the zone of desired effects

Positive School Culture

•     “Feelings of belonging enhance students’ self-esteem and can contribute both directly and indirectly to improvements in academic and behavioural functioning and overall mental health.  Students who feel accepted are more likely to develop strong literacy skills and make a positive contribution to the school culture and are less likely to commit infractions.  Conversely, a low sense of school engagement in students appears to be correlated to a higher incidence of emotional and behavioural disorders.”  Canadian Public Health Association, 2003

School Climate Guiding Principles

•     “All students deserve a learning environment in which they are safe – and feel safe – and in which they feel welcomed, respected, and inspired to meet high expectations for learning.”
                                                                                Safe Schools Action Team, 2008

•     Safety is a precondition for learning
•     Every student is entitled to learn to the best of his or her ability
•     Every student is entitled to a safe and caring learning environment
•     Every student is entitled to learn in an environment free from harassment and violence
•     A quality education is about more than academic achievement; it is about the development of the whole person
•     The commitment to safe schools is a shared responsibility of government, school board trustees and administrators, principals, teachers, support staff, students, parents, police and community partners

Safe Schools Teams

•     Required as part of Bill 157 (February 2010) Keeping Kids Safe in School Act
•     Each school must have in place a safe schools team responsible for school safety that is composed of the following: one student (where appropriate), one parent, one teacher, one non-teaching staff member, one community partner, and the principal

Safe Schools Teams: Mandate

•     Emergency Procedures Planning & Implementation (Evacuation, Shelter in Place, Hold & Secure, Lockdown) LDSB Administrative Procedures 141
•     Review climate survey results, Bill 157

Climate Surveys: The Rationale

•     Before schools can take action to build and/or strengthen a caring and safe school culture, they need to get an accurate picture of their existing school culture
•     Improving a school’s climate results in increased achievement (DeWit, McKee, Fjeld, & Karioja – 2003)
•     It is essential to gather data from students, since research about bullying suggests that adults in a school do not witness the majority of this student behaviour

P/PM 145: Progressive Discipline

Fall 2009
•     In evaluating and monitoring safe school policies and programs, school boards must direct schools to address gender-based violence, homophobia, sexual harassment, and inappropriate sexual behavior in their school improvement plans
•     Board must also direct schools to evaluate the effectiveness of their safe schools policies and programs through the use of school climate surveys, which must be undertaken every two years at a minimum
•     LDSB Administrative Procedure 353

        Because there would be no quorum for the next item if Mr. Burra did not stop his presentation at this point, as three Trustees had to leave the meeting because of another commitment, he did so that there would be quorum when he presented information concerning an Expulsion Memorandum of Agreement/Minutes of Settlement for Expulsion Cases, as there was a motion that needed to be dealt with.

        Trustee McLaren withdrew from the meeting.

Expulsion Memorandum of Agreement/Minutes of Settlement for Expulsion Cases

        Mr. Burra stated that since February 2008 when Bill 212 was implemented, boards have adopted new requirements with regard to expulsions.  He advised that previously students could receive a limited expulsion or full expulsion.  However, Bill 212 made all expulsions (from a school or from all schools of the board) subject to a decision from school board trustees in a pseudo hearing.  He indicated that since February 2008, all expulsions done by the Limestone District School board have been done through a hearing.

        Mr. Burra reported that many boards have developed alternative measures for expelling students that deviate from strict interpretation of provincial legislation.  He indicated that these measures come in the form of Memorandums of Agreement/Minutes of Settlement between the board and the student and/or the parent(s) and are supported by legal advice that these boards have received.  Mr. Burra advised that the Ministry of Education has not endorsed these alternative measures, but recognize that legally they could be supported.  Both school boards in Ottawa and Toronto, as well as our co-terminus boards, among many others, have adopted alternative measures for managing expulsion situations.  Mr. Burra advised that when these boards pursue Memorandums of Agreement/Minutes of Settlement, the supervisor of safe schools and/or school principal formulate and sign the agreement with the student and/or parent(s).  The memorandum is then presented to a disciplinary committee composed of trustees to have them review and “sign-off” on the memorandum.  Under these circumstances, the memorandum is still counted as an expulsion from a school or from the board.

        Mr. Burra stated that there are a number of situations that would justify the use of alternative measures: 1) situations where the family is humiliated and could be spared further “public” discussion of the matter; 2) situations where the student is being charged criminally and the family is concerned about either information that could be disclosed through an expulsion hearing being used in a criminal case or that an expulsion hearing could influence a decision in the criminal court proceedings; or 3) potentially, very contentious issues that could be resolved by a third party and a solution found that would avoid a confrontation between the school and the student and/or parent(s) in a “public” hearing.

        Trustee Jackson requested that a legal opinion be sought with regard to the use of Memorandums of Agreement/Minutes of Settlement as an option for expulsion situations.

        Mr. Burra indicated that this matter has been vetted through the Board’s solicitors.  He indicated that this is not an arrangement specifically discussed or outlined in the Safe Schools Act.  He said that the use of Memorandums of Agreement/Minutes of Settlement does not contravene the Act, as it still maintains all requirements of the Act.

        MOVED BY Trustee Jackson, the Education/Human Resources Committee recommends to the Board, that the Limestone District School Board use Memorandums of Agreement/Minutes of Settlement as an option for expulsion situations, or our current process of expulsion hearings.–Carried

Next Meeting Date

        The next meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, January 19, 2011, at 4:30 p.m.
        MOVED BY Trustee Jackson, that the meeting adjourn at 5:40 p.m.–Carried