The main one writes on the “traumatic impacts” of the event
A letter from the principal of Hidden Valley Elementary School to the families of the students promises to act on concerns created by the conviction of a former educational assistant for sexual interference.
“Hello, Hidden Valley School community,” reads the letter from John Duclos, which was obtained by The Star.
“As many of you know, in 2019 an employee unfortunately chose to abuse their position of authority and trust with a student while they were in school.
“This individual has been charged, convicted and sentenced for his actions. When this matter came to my attention in 2019, we informed the RCMP, who initiated an investigation.
“In addition, we immediately ensured that the individual was no longer allowed to work with students in Hidden Valley or any school in the Yukon.
“As we begin a new school year tomorrow (August 23), we recognize how this previous incident can have negative and, in some cases, traumatic impacts on our school community.
“Likewise, the continued safety and protection of our students, your children, is of the utmost importance.
“The school will continue to monitor all interactions between staff and students and follow up on any parent or student concerns that arise.
“As needed, the school will contact external support services, including counseling, RCMP, family and children’s services. We will also continue to support our students with a variety of services and education, including:
“Support for various community support programs:
Child, Adolescent and Family Treatment Team (CYFTT)
Community health nurses
Yukon First Nations Education Branch
Student support services
Educational programming focused on:
School-wide supports and communication strategies.
“When discussing safety, we will use a common language shared with students, families, caregivers and staff,” Duclos wrote.
“A well-being teacher and administration are available to discuss socio-emotional and safety issues with students and families.
“We are sending resources home for developmentally appropriate conversations with children about safety.
“Please note that due to confidentiality and the risk of traumatizing other children, we will not speak directly to students at the school or class level about the incident in 2019.
“However, we will assess the needs of each student and their family and provide personalized and confidential support and programs.
“The Hidden Valley School has always had a strong and supportive community. We will all have to continue to work together, support each other and advocate for the needs of our families, ”added Duclos.
The Star asked the Yukon government to comment on Duclos’ letter. He responded with a statement he had already provided.
Erin MacDonald, director of communications for the Department of Education, provided it via email.
“We care deeply about our students, their families and their staff and the Department of Education takes this situation very seriously. In our duty of care, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all students in our schools.
“When this matter came to our attention in 2019, we informed the RCMP,” MacDonald wrote. “As soon as we learned of the allegation, the individual was no longer working with the students or in the schools.
“If parents are concerned that their child may have interacted with this former employee in a disturbing manner, we urge them to contact the RCMP Specialized Response Unit directly at 867-667-5555 to share the information.
“The Department of Education is committed to ensuring that students and families have the best supports available to them,” added MacDonald.
“In situations like these, we encourage parents to contact the Yukon government’s Victim Services Branch, which provides expert support through Project Lynx.
“The Lynx project supports children and young victims of crime and their families. It doesn’t matter whether the crime was reported, a charge was laid or there was a conviction, ”MacDonald wrote.
“This team provides services to help navigate the next steps and can point to other supports such as counseling. You can reach Project Lynx at 867-667-3002 or by email at [email protected]
“We understand the impact this situation has on the school community and we are committed to supporting all students and their families. The Department of Education will provide additional supports to students at Hidden Valley Elementary School.
“The Government of Yukon’s Department of Education is currently a respondent in a civil matter relating to this situation. We also understand that there are open RCMP investigations into this matter.
“Therefore, we are unable to comment further at this time,” MacDonald concluded.
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