The administrative headquarters for Central Okanagan Public Schools in Kelowna. (File photo)

Teachers feel safe in Central Okanagan public schools

School board discussion allays any workplace fears

Is there a concern of Central Okanagan teachers not feeling safe in public schools?

That question was raised by Lake Country school trustee Amy Geistlinger at the Feb. 10 board of education meeting during a discussion about a staff report on student suspension numbers.

Susan Bauhart, president of COTA, said she could not remember ever raising the issue.

“I can tell you, however, if a teacher feels unsafe in the environment they are working in, there is a process whereby they go to the administrator (school principal) and the administrator looks after the situation, and if not the process continues further but I honestly can’t remember a situation where that has happened,” Bauhart said.

She said behavioural issues in schools from a teacher’s perspective tend to focus mainly on “when things happen” that might warrant a suspension of a student but none is given.

‘That frustration is sometimes expressed to our office about not understanding why a suspension wasn’t given in a particular case,” she said.

Kevin Kaardal, Central Okanagan Public Schools superintendent/CEO, added workplace safety concerns have not been an issue that teachers have expressed to school district administration officials.

“That is not the case, not our experience. There are systems in place as has been suggested to support teachers from administrators, school counsellors and other outside agencies for escalating behaviours that might concern us,” Kaardal said.

Kaardal added there are many factors involved in whether a student is suspended for a bad behaviour issue.

“The purpose of discipline measures are not only for the safety of students and staff but to correct those behaviours from reoccurring,” he added.

Geistlinger said she is confident in how the public school system cares for students and teachers and thanked Bauhart for bringing clarity to the issue.

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