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Province removes teachers named in abuse allegations

The Ministry of Education says any teacher named in a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit alleging incidents of physical and verbal abuse against students by staff at the Legacy Christian Academy will not be teaching this school year.

Earlier in the day, the Saskatchewan NDP called on the province to do just that, while also asking for an investigation into the allegations by the Saskatchewan’s Children and Youth Advocate.

NDP official opposition critic for human rights Meara Conway said the Ministry of Education failed in its duty to act and hold the alleged parties accountable.

“Teachers who are named in the lawsuit who are alleged to have perpetrated these abuses will be back in the classroom this fall -- and that is unacceptable,” she said.

“You are not alone. That kind of conduct is not okay. And we will keep pushing for accountability.”

At a news conference Thursday, Conway wondered if the Sask. Party government is aware of other allegations of human rights abuses it has failed to act on.

In response to the allegation, the province amended its Registered Independent Schools Regulations to allow an administrator to oversee three schools which employ individuals named in the lawsuit. 

Former Legacy student Stefanie Hutchinson said more needs to be done, alleging some private schools in Saskatchewan are being run by unqualified people who aren’t registered with any regulatory body.

“It's unacceptable. Some of these individuals are currently facing numerous child abuse allegations. And they're preparing to accept new students in just a few weeks,” she said.

“It is astonishing to us as survivors that we even have to have this conference today. Why are we still needing to persist on an issue that should be non-partisan?”

In an email late Thursday afternoon, The Ministry of Education said it asked the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board (SPTRB) to investigate once names were revealed in the statement of claim. The email statement said the board has acted.

"We understand the SPTRB has taken action and that these teachers will not be in the schools for the 2022-23 school year. No one named in the lawsuit will be working in schools for the 2022-23 school year," the statement said.

Hutchison, together with fellow former student Caitlin Erickson, Conway and NDP leader Carla Beck stood outside of Saskatchewan’s Children and Youth Advocate calling for the independent investigation.

“As students, we are requesting a meeting with the Minister of Education Dustin Duncan, who essentially has been non-responsive at this point,” Erickson said.

The Ministry of Education says the appointed administrators are working to establish themselves at each of the three schools employing people named in the lawsuit. 

"Each administrator’s priorities will include reviewing school staff and making personnel decisions to ensure student safety. Once administrators are in place they will schedule a meeting with any students or former students who are interested in speaking with them about the allegations," the statement said. 

Erickson said dozens of former students have approached her about their own abuse they faced while attending Christian Centre Academy, now known as Legacy Christian Academy, with some students attending the school as recently as 2019.

Erickson said 18 of those students are preparing statements for a Saskatoon Police Service investigation into the alleged abuses.

“Doesn't matter what side politically you are on. This is a problem for everybody,” she said.

Beck said Duncan has the ability and obligation to open an investigation immediately.

“It is beyond frustrating that we have to stand here and ask for this. This should have been done immediately when this first crossed the minister's desk,” she said.

Beck has also written the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children & Youth to examine whether there are adequate oversight processes in place to protect children in Qualified Independent Schools. Top Stories

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