At May 6th,2014 CBE Public Trustee Meeting a proposal for all CBE employees undergoing police checks had some staggering debate points. At issue, the board’s administration say more than 2,800 employees have never undergone a police screening as it wasn’t mandatory prior to 1999. The rest of the employees have just one police check at the time of hiring.
During questioning, Trustee and Chair Sheila Taylor asked why the report had police checks every 3 years instead of 5 years as a standard. The answer from Chief Stevenson was that was a standard set out by child welfare in Alberta.
Trustee Stewart moved to add the phrase “and ensure all employees undergo a police check every 5 years” to a policy “treatment of employees”. As well as an impact statement for doing this by June 30th. This is a first reading and does not change policy until second reading.
Some of the points made during debate were ” I don’t believe we need to institute a policy for police checks every 5 years. An employee is not a volunteer, all new hires are screened through references and police checks. We have stringent rules for employees to reports any charges against them … we have an excellent relationship with the Calgary Police Services who keep us informed when an employee is charged with an offense, our practices are completely in line with what most school boards are doing to ensure student safety…… there is no research or evidence to show that it will be an effective method to ensure or increase student safety….. I know that some people perceive that police checks increase provide greater safety, but I don’t believe in making decisions based on people’s perceptions and false reassurance ” by Trustee Lynn Ferguson. Trustee King agreed saying ” from my perspective police check does not protect our students or organization from individuals who commits a crime… from my perspective this isn’t too far off the whole concept about crosswalks and a children’s belief that a crosswalk is an invisible force field that will protect them from getting hit by a car. I think student safety is absolutely very important… spending more dollars on police checks for people who have committed their lives and careers to students and the CBE is not something I’m prepared to do in our current fiscal reality ” and Trustee Hehr then added “It goes deeper for me. There is a code of conduct and teachers are professionals and when we look at the code of conduct, they need to self report, we know we have a good rapport with the police service, just doesn’t sit well with me not to value a teacher for their professional nature.”
In support of the motion, Trustee Hurdman said ” It has been mentioned we have an excellent relationship with the Calgary Police Service and that’s great, but not all of our teachers are in Calgary all of the time so even though anything done in Calgary would be reported, if they were out of the country or anywhere else in Canada, I’m not sure exactly how that process works, if we would be informed”. On self reporting “It doesn’t increase public confidence when it is self reported, because the sort of person who would commit a crime is not the sort of person to self report a criminal offense” “I’m confused by some of the statements…. If we don’t believe that police checks increase student safety, then why do we do them for new hires at all?” Chair Taylor added ” We have a lot more employees than just teachers, so this isn’t just about teachers as I hear a lot of talk about the practices of the Alberta Teachers Association and this is broader than that.”
Trustee King asks if June 30th is a reasonable deadline as its only “a few sleeps away”, Chief Stevenson says it is doable. Trustee Bowen Eyre amends the date to October 31st. Amendment passed 6-1. Overall motion passed 4-3. Stewart, Hurdman, Bowen Eyre and Taylor in favor.