The province has accepted all 13 recommendations of an expert panel that looked into how Halifax Regional School Board and associated agencies handled events leading to the death of high school student Rehtaeh Parsons.
Debra Pepler and Penny Milton delivered their final report to the province today, June 14.
“Rehtaeh’s story is not an easy one to listen to, but it’s important that we hear it,” said Marilyn More, lead Minister for the Action Team on Sexual Violence and Bullying.
“Dr. Pepler and Ms. Milton have written a thorough report on her experiences and implementing their recommendations will help prevent another tragedy. This is not the end of our work; far from it. The review and its recommendations will be added to the efforts currently underway.”
Ms. More met with the Parsons family this morning. The family has been involved throughout the review and has had a chance to read the report.
The province has asked the Department of Health and Wellness to prepare options to review the IWK Health Centre’s mental-health programs, services and policies as it relates to Rehtaeh’s case, a move supported by the reviewers.
The province is conducting an independent review by out-of-province experts into the actions of the Public Prosecution Service and police. This will begin immediately after police release the results of their criminal investigation.
An action plan in response to the all of the recommendations will be completed in the next few weeks.
“If there is one message we want to emphasize, it is this: work together. Good relationships will be essential for finding solutions that work,” Dr. Pepler and Ms. Milton said in their report. “We need to listen, learn from each other, and build a body of evidence that will help us all to respond effectively in crisis situations.”
The reviewers were appointed by the province April 18. It was one of the first actions by the Action Team on Sexual Violence and Bullying, which was created by Premier Darrell Dexter after Ms. Parsons’s death.
Dr. Pepler is a professor of psychology at York University. She is co-founder of PREVNet, Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network, and has been on the Ontario Minister of Education’s Safe Schools Action Team since 2004. One of her research areas is bullying.
Ms. Milton is former CEO of the Canadian Education Association and a former deputy minister of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Health, Wellbeing and Social Justice in Ontario. Her primary area of interest is the engagement of young people in learning.
Recommendations from the report released on Friday include:
1. Make safety and respect the norm in all organizational policies and practices.
Promote these core values at every opportunity—both to prevent bullying,
cyberbullying, and sexual agression, and to promote social-emotional (relationship)
competence in children, youth, and adults.
2. Revise the provincial, regional, and school codes of conduct to include
opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes when they violate the school
code—for example, through restorative practices.
3. Include a wide range of young people in advisory roles—for example, through
the provincial Youth Advisory Committee and through the Leaders of Today
4. Ensure that many different students play meaningful roles in the development
of policies, procedures, protocols, and initiatives that affect them—including the
revision of regional and school codes of conduct.
5. Revise the policy for Creating School Populations to take account of the needs
of students who may have parents/guardians living in more than one school
area. Clarify the approval process for transfers between schools to remove any
inconsistencies between the policy and the practices.
6. Develop a standard to guide school administrators in determining what informal
information to share when a student transfers between high schools.
7. Ask students, staff, and parents about the quality of their relationships within the
school community, using school surveys or other tools. Report the findings in the
school boards’ accountability reports to the community.
8. Engage parents who have many different perspectives and experiences to help in
the essential work of creating welcoming schools and non-adversarial policies and
practices for resolving problems.
9. Remove systemic barriers among the various departments and agencies that
serve students and their families, and make collaboration a core value. Model it;
track it; celebrate it.
10. Extend SchoolsPlus, or an alternative model for coordinating services for
students and their families, to serve all school communities throughout
11. Use the Common Consent Form developed for SchoolsPlus as a model for
sharing information in communities that currently do not have SchoolsPlus
12. Emphasize social-emotional learning when reviewing and revising curriculum.
Create a balance of learning outcomes that include intellectual, ethical, socialemotional, and physical development for all students.
13. Commission an expert, independent review of the programs and services
of the IWK Health Centre and the Capital Health Authority as they relate to the case
of Rehtaeh Parsons.
The complete report can be found below.
Rehteah Parsons Report 2013