Police investigating female Kitsilano secondary teacher for unspecified allegations

Global News report says case possibly involves two students; police won't confirm

A female teacher from Kitsilano secondary school has been suspended while the Vancouver Police Department investigates unspecified allegations.

Vancouver School Board spokesperson Kurt Heinrich wouldnt comment on the nature of the allegations, whether one or more students made them and how long that teacher has taught at the West 10th Avenue school because of confidentiality concerns.

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Global News reported the case possibly involves two students and that allegations relate to a school trip that occurred two years ago.

But VPD media relations officer Const. Brian Montague wouldnt say whether this information was accurate.

The information we have right now, the details are a little vague, he said. We are looking into the matter but we dont have any information at this time where we can verify that a criminal offence has happened or may have happened.

School liaison officers were at Kitsilano secondary on Thursday.

Heinrich said school board officials learned fairly recently of the allegations and immediately reported them to police.

He said the board has a series of protocols and guidelines on how to handle such situations.

We really do want to emphasize that the schools safe. Its a really great school and its a great learning environment for students to go to, Heinrich said. And we understand theres going to be consternation and concerns among parents, but were doing our best to try to try to alleviate that by communicating with parents.

Board representatives updated school staff Friday morning and discussed how teachers could talk to students about the circumstances in class. A letter was sent to parents and students were encouraged to speak with their counsellors.

Theres a natural impulse to start talking and gossip and all that, and we really want to try to avoid that as much as possible, Heinrich said.

Debbie Pawluk, president of the Vancouver Secondary Teachers Association, said the teacher is on paid leave.

Montague wouldnt speculate on how long it could take police to determine whether a criminal offence may have occurred.

Tamara Woods, corporate regulations manager for the Ministry of Educations teacher regulation branch, wouldnt provide any specific information on the case. She said the independent commissioner for teacher regulation, former B.C. Supreme Court judge Bruce M. Preston, receives and responds to reports and complaints about teachers. The commissioner doesnt make a determination of guilt or innocence. He reviews the information gathered and decides whether to take action, which could lead to a hearing. Disciplinary actions are posted on the branchs website, unless doing so causes significant hardship to a person harmed by the teacher. A teacher found to have breached professional standards could receive a reprimand, suspension, face limits or conditions or have their teaching certificate cancelled. The regulation branch lists the status of each teacher in the province on its website.

crossi@vancourier.com

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