Minister of Education Jeanie McLean and Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee have issued the following statement:
“In November 2019, an educational assistant at Hidden Valley Elementary School had abused a student. As soon as officials with the Department of Education were advised of the allegations, the individual was removed from the school and has not worked with students since that time. The Department of Education immediately referred the matter to the RCMP. In response, the Hidden Valley school administration also changed their protocols to increase the safety of students and reinforce accountability. To protect the privacy of the victim and the integrity of the RCMP investigation, the Department of Education did not take steps to inform other parents of the situation at that time. We were respecting the RCMP process and confident that a comprehensive investigation would involve contacting additional students and parents. We now recognize that it was a mistake that other affected parents were not made aware of the situation and that steps could have been taken at that time to better inform and support families. We apologize for this and acknowledge the stress being experienced by the Hidden Valley school community. We can and will do better as we move forward.
"The actions of this former employee, who is now a convicted criminal, are absolutely devastating. Students and their families, teachers and staff at Hidden Valley Elementary School, and central administration staff continue to feel the adverse impacts of this situation.
"We acknowledge there has been a breakdown in trust between families, Hidden Valley Elementary School and the Department of Education. The following actions have been taken with the goal of restoring confidence and trust in the safety of our education system:
- The Government of Yukon is honouring our commitment to parents of Hidden Valley Elementary School by initiating an independent review of the Government of Yukon’s response to this incident in 2019, as well as its policies and protocols to respond to incidents of this kind. This review will involve parents and guardians as well as partner agencies and organizations with the goal of understanding what occurred and making improvements that ensure our education system is protecting students and supporting school communities.
- The Yukon Child and Youth Advocate has initiated a review of Education’s policies, protocols and actions taken after allegations were brought forward to determine whether the actions taken follow established protocols. The Government of Yukon has committed to cooperate with this review to ensure it is effective.
"Additionally, the RCMP continue to investigate the actions of the former educational assistant, and have initiated a complete independent review of their 2019 investigation.
"The outcome of these actions will support the healing process of the parents and families of Hidden Valley Elementary School, the broader school community, and the territory as a whole.
"We are absolutely committed to working in partnership to advance this healing process in a restorative way that rebuilds trust and strengthens our education system.”