The English School District says safety of students within the K-12 school system is a priority, and all teachers must undergo a criminal record check and vulnerable sector check when hired.
In recent months a number of high-profile cases involving teachers have come to light, leading some to question what policies are in place to ensure student safety in the province’s schools.
Thirty-two-year-old metro-area teacher and volleyball coach Markus Hicks is facing dozens of serious charges involving multiple complainants, including sexual assault, disguise with intent, and kidnapping. Police allege Hicks used fictitious identities, social media apps and concealment to arrange sex acts.
Meanwhile, 54-year-old Paul Thomas, a teacher at Carbonear Collegiate, is facing charges including sexual exploitation, child luring and sexual interference, with more charges possible as the investigation continues.
The NLESD says while it cannot speak to specific cases, any complaint against an employee is taken seriously. Typically, if an employee is facing a serious charge, they are usually suspended with pay – however, the board has the authority to suspend a staff member without pay if charged with an offence that makes the employee unsuitable to carry out their duties.
If convicted, the employee is dismissed.
The NLESD says it is continuing to make sure that appropriate processes and policies are in place with student safety top of mind, and they review and revise those polities as necessary.