Safe Schools And Bullying Prevention A Priority For The McGuinty Government



    Amendments To The Education Act Pass With Unanimous Consent In The
    Legislature

    QUEEN'S PARK, June 5 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government's amendments to the
safe schools provisions of the Education Act will strike a balance between
more effectively combining discipline with opportunities for students to
continue their education, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced last
night.
    "I am proud of this piece of progressive and effective legislation that
will address the concerns we have heard," said Education Minister Kathleen
Wynne following its passage in the Legislature. "These changes show that we
are listening to the people of Ontario, and demonstrate our government's
determination to address the tougher issues and make our schools safer places
for students to learn."
    Bill 212, the Education Amendment Act (Progressive Discipline and School
Safety), 2007, amends sections of the Education Act and replaces them with new
provisions related to the suspension and expulsion of pupils.

    
    Highlights include:

    -   Adding bullying to the list of infractions for which suspension must
        be considered
    -   Supporting a progressive discipline approach to choose the
        appropriate course of action in the case of inappropriate behaviour.
    -   Replacing mandatory suspensions and expulsions for students (except
        in limited circumstances) with the requirement that principals and
        school boards respond to all infractions that occurred in the most
        appropriate way
    -   Requiring that mitigating factors be considered before students are
        suspended or expelled
    -   Clarifying decision-making authority for principals to suspend and
        school boards to expel students.
    

    To support the changes, the government has allocated $31 million
annually, beginning in 2007-2008, to make Ontario's schools safer. This
includes $23 million for programs and supports to address inappropriate
behaviour and programs for all expelled students and students serving
long-term suspensions. Training will be provided to principals and
vice-principals on changes to the act and ways to apply discipline in a
non-discriminatory manner. The bill will come into effect February 1, 2008 to
provide school boards with time to put programs in place to fully implement
the requirements of the new legislation.
    The Safe Schools Action Team, led by Liz Sandals, Parliamentary Assistant
to the Minister of Education held extensive consultations around the province.
The team heard from 700 parents, students, community members and educators who
shared their experience and expertise, resulting in fair, progressive
legislation that was passed unanimously.
    "The changes offer a better, fairer, more equitable approach to ensuring
safety in our schools," said Sandals. "Through our consultations we heard that
there was a lack of focus on prevention - as well as serious discrepancies in
consistency, fairness and methods of discipline when it came to the
application of the act. The changes to the legislation will help address these
failings."
    The amendments and funding will build on the government's current $28.7
million investment to make schools safer and help prevent bullying. The
current investment includes:

    
    -   $3 million for a three-year partnership with Kids Help Phone to
        provide more resources for bullying and cyber-bullying prevention
        support
    -   $6 million for model projects to promote positive behaviour
    -   $7.8 million for bullying-prevention programs/resources for schools
        and boards
    -   $4.5 million for bullying-prevention training for up to 25,000
        teachers
    -   $1.2 million for bullying-prevention training for approximately 7,500
        principals and vice-principals
    -   $3.2 million for security access devices for schools as part of a
        Safe Welcome Program to help staff better monitor school visitors and
        limit points of access into schools
    -   $3 million through the OESC Special Circumstances Bullying and
        Violence Prevention Fund for schools facing additional challenges
    

    "The McGuinty government believes that all students and staff in Ontario
schools have the right to feel safe at school and on school grounds," said
Wynne. "Our government is committed to making schools safe in this province to
help ensure that all our students can achieve their full potential."

    Disponible en français

    
                              www.edu.gov.on.ca
                           www.ontario.ca/progress
    




For further information:

For further information: Michelle Despault, Minister's Office, (416)
212-3747; Patricia MacNeil, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2676; Public
Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514; TTY: 1-800-263-2892

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Ontario Ministry of Education

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