The Yukon education minister responded to a petition regarding sexual abuse at Hidden Valley Elementary School in Whitehorse in the legislature on Monday, but provided little new information on the situation.
While Minister Jeanie McLean acknowledged the “seriousness of the matter” and declared that “there is nothing more important than the well-being, safety and protection of students”, she did not directly Responded to the two main demands outlined in the document tabled by Lake Laberge MP Brad Cathers last month.
The parent-organized petition, which was signed by nearly 350 people, urged Tracy McPhee, Deputy Prime Minister and McLean predecessor, to publicly disclose when she learned of a case of school sexual abuse in 2019 , and what instructions she gave to education officials after that. .
McPhee did not stand to speak about the petition and McLean did not release the information on McPhee’s behalf.
Instead, McLean reiterated that the Department of Education failed to notify parents of the arrest of a teaching assistant at Hidden Valley School for sexual abuse of a student in 2019 because he wanted to protect the privacy of the victim and the integrity of the RCMP investigation.
“We now recognize that the other affected parents were not made aware of the situation and that steps could have been taken during this time to share information in a targeted manner to better inform and support families,” McLean said.
“It was a mistake. We apologize again for this and recognize the stress and emotional burden on the Hidden Valley school community. We can and will do better as we move forward.”
She also highlighted the three separate reviews or investigations underway into the government’s handling of the situation – one by a government-hired lawyer, another by the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate, and the third by the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate. Yukon Ombudsman – as well as internal police review. .
“The findings of these reviews will help us improve the way we protect Yukon students, support school communities and ensure that the right policies and protocols are in place and effective,” she said.
McLean later said during Question Period that she would attend a tour of the Hidden Valley School with her administration on Tuesday to “ensure that [work on] some of the safety issues that have been reported are ongoing ”, such as the possible removal of doors or the installation of two-way windows.
McLean also said she and McPhee will attend a private reunion with parents from Hidden Valley later this month.