Changes to the Safe Schools ActBill 212: What you Need to Know
Bill 212 comes into effect on February 1, 2008. It modifies the existing system of suspension and expulsion of students while keeping elements of the existing discretionary and mandatory suspensions in the Education Act. The list of infractions that may lead to suspension will now include bullying - an important step in achieving safe schools. The new system builds in flexibility and progressive consequences for infractions, and provides students with programs while suspended and expelled. Lastly, Bill 212 changes the decision making structure so that teachers no longer have the authority to suspend.
Four key Policy/Program Memoranda (PPM) have been issued to assist school boards in implementing these programs. They require boards to develop and implement policies, with teacher input, on progressive discipline, bullying prevention and intervention. Policies should include a comprehensive definition of bullying and cyberbullying. Once developed, boards must communicate these policies to everyone in the school community.
These memoranda are available on the Ministry of Education’s website at: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/ppm.html
Policy/Program Memorandum No. 141
This PPM deals with school board programs for students under suspension. Boards are expected to provide homework packages for students who have been suspended for less than six days. In the case of long-term suspensions (six days or more), boards must offer at least one program for suspended students. Boards must encourage suspended students to participate in these programs, but boards cannot compel student participation.
A Student Action Plan (SAP) must be developed for every student on a long-term suspension who commits to attend a suspended student program. The SAP will outline the objectives for students and be tailored to meet the student's specific needs.
It is ETFO’s position that programs for suspended students must be provided by certified teachers.
Policy/Program Memorandum No. 142
This PPM deals with school board programs for expelled students. Boards are required to either:
Policy/Program Memorandum No. 144
This PPM deals with bullying prevention and intervention. Bullying has been added to the list of infractions for which suspension must be considered. Bullying is defined by the Ministry as:
“…a form of repeated, persistent, and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance.”
Board policies must include several statements regarding:
Each school is required to have a “Safe School” team in place that is responsible for school safety. This role can be assumed by an existing school committee that meets the requirements outlined in this memorandum. Release time should be provided. Policy/Program Memorandum No. 145
This PPM deals with progressive discipline and the promotion of positive student behaviour. The discipline imposed for inappropriate behaviour should be both corrective and supportive. Schools are to utilize a range of interventions, supports, and consequences that include learning opportunities while helping students to make good choices. These include meetings with parents, conflict mediation, peer mentoring, and/or a referral to counselling. In addressing inappropriate behaviour the following should be considered:
Board policies and procedures on progressive discipline must include several specific elements outlined in PPM No. 145. Tips for Teachers
For additional information contact your ETFO local office or staff in Protective Services at 416-962-3836 or 1-888-838-3836.