School board candidate Randy Anderson-Fennell says violent incident statistics from the Delta school district and frontline staff paint vastly different pictures of violence in schools.
In a news release, Anderson-Fennell says he filed a Freedom of Information request with the district this July asking for violent incident statistics for the 2017/18 school year. The district replied to the request last month by providing a document titled “Incident claims involving student aggression or violence” that detailed a list of 13 incidents across the district.
Anderson-Fennell pursued the figures with Patti Price, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 1091, representing education assistants and other support workers in the district. Price put out a call to union representatives at each school asking for statistics on the number of violent incident reports at their schools. Six schools have responded so far, and their numbers are in contrast to district figures.
Five schools collectively reported 30 incidents taking place in the six weeks since schools opened in September, says Anderson-Fennell. A sixth school reported 99 incidents in just one program during 2017/18, the same time period as Anderson-Fennell’s FOI request.
“We take violence against our members seriously and we are constantly reminding our education assistants to report all incidents or near misses by filling out either a district form and/or a WCB form,” said Price.
Anderson-Fennell said the district, responding to the FOI request, noted that only incidents requiring first aid, medical attention or lost time are tracked. CUPE asks members to report incidents and “near misses,” reminding members on its website “We aren’t on the job to get hurt!”
While there may be differences between the two datasets, the discrepancy concerns Anderson-Fennell.
“A student behaving aggressively could escalate to actual physical violence, so we need to know about all these incidents even if no one received medical attention or missed work.”
Anderson-Fennell added, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”
Anderson-Fennell and fellow candidate Victor Espinoza are proposing a review of the reporting mechanisms for violent incidents in the district.
“We need to ensure all stakeholders are using the same data to inform the decisions they make,” said Espinoza.
Anderson-Fennell is part of the Kids Matter slate with Espinoza and Bruce Reid.