Wednesday August 20, 2014

Trustees review policy after school incident

A potentially lethal incident at a North Shore school confirms why the Kamloops school district must toughen up its rules about tracking violent students.

The 17-year-old student, who had an 11-inch knife in his jacket, was arrested at Twin Rivers Education Centre last week after an argument with a teacher.

A new policy that keeps closer tabs on students with violent tendencies will be presented to school trustees next week.

Currently, a student with a history of threats in one school can move to another without the incident showing up on his or her permanent record. Such encounters are recorded on a central database.

Trustees said Monday they hope the Violence Free Environment policy will prevent incidents like the one at Twin Rivers Education.

“Anything that keeps our staff and students safe is good,” said Kathleen Karpuk.

The student was arrested in the school’s parking lot at about 2 p.m. Thursday. Principal Sean Lamoureux said the student was talking to his caseworker when RCMP arrived.

Police were called when the student began arguing with a teacher about his grades. The argument continued into the hall, where another teacher intervened. Lamoureux said his staff was told the student may have a weapon and that a threat was made.

“It was something to do with ‘the marks will have to change or else’,” he said. The knife was not brandished during the incident.

Officers found the knife in the student’s jacket. He was arrested without incident and has been suspended from school indefinitely. RCMP Const. Pat Nagy said the youth was released from custody on a promise to appear.

The encounter is just the kind the trustees hope to put an end to with the policy when it is presented to trustees at a school board meeting Feb. 22.

The policy allows incidents that are considered medium to high risk to be logged on a student’s permanent record, which is forwarded to whatever school the student attends.

Trustee Denise Harper, who sits on the district’s policy committee, said teachers and staff will be aware of past incidents and better prepared to prevent them from happening again.

The policy is based on recommendations made by WorkSafeBC and developed by district staff to keep schools violence free, she said.

“It indicates we are doing everything in our power to prevent (violence) and deal with it when it occurs,” said Harper.

Karpuk said a student’s record will only be available to teachers and staff at the school he or she attends. Only incidents like the one at Twin Rivers will be documented, so not every child will have a record.

School board chairman Ken Christian and vice chairwoman Diane Dosch believe the policy will keep classrooms safe.

“It’s for the safety of our staff and students,” said Dosch.

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