UGDSB receives next steps for police presence in schools

GUELPH – Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) passed the motion to receive the Police Presence in Schools – Next Steps report during a May 25 meeting.

On May 11, superintendent Cheryl Van Ooteghem and acting superintendent Pat Hamilton, along with assistant to superintendent of program Wendy Donaldson and Mental Health and Addiction lead Jenny Marino collectively presented the report.

The presentation provided trustees with an inside look into the ongoing work in the UGDSB and the work moving forward.

The presentation included discussion on curriculum and special education, mental health, students, staff and parents, procedures and practices, community agencies and neighbourhood groups and police.

Van Ooteghem presented the curriculum, outlining the culturally responsive, relevant work and ongoing PIVOT Project.

Ongoing development

The presentation noted books and units of study have been created to deal with relevant topics to today’s society, such as different types of families, homelessness, poverty, and growing up Black in a white community. Ongoing development in those areas will be part of the 2021-22 school year.

In addition, Marino outlined ways to effectively support students in the area of mental health and wellbeing.

Examples of ongoing staff training to further support and understand student wellbeing and mental health included: the board wide initiative -The Umbrella Project, equity content, Indigenous history, 2SLGBTQIA+ information and relevant trauma informed training to staff.

Additional work includes collaboration between UGDSB and community agencies on Violent Threat Risk Assessments (VTRA) training. The board is working with police services in the region that can be called on when a stage one VTRA occurs.

The Police/School Board Protocol will also be reviewed a minimum of every two years. It provides guidelines for administrators and police when working through a police response at a school. Administrators will be trained on protocol prior to September.

In addition, an alternative suspension program beginning in September of this year will be offered in all secondary schools in the City of Guelph.

Under the program, students who receive a suspension of three to five days can voluntarily attend the alternative suspension program. It includes activities that focus on schoolwork completion, one-on-one support and group workshops.

The presentation noted police and the board are committed to working together to regroup and rebuild their relationship and programs to support students.

This will include creating feedback forms, parent letters and surveys through an equity and human rights lens to ensure all police presentations are current and relate to the curriculum.

Heading into the fall, data on calls to schools, police presentations and students not participating will be collected and reviewed to help identify gaps in service for students and needs in schools.

The board will also provide an annual presentation to trustees and include an analysis of the data collected.