Reform The Protecting Students Act (PSA) to Protect Youth from Sexual Misconduct
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My name is Sara Escallon-Sotomayor. I am a grade 10 student at Harbord Collegiate Institute in Toronto, studying under the Toronto District School Board. I am starting this petition because my school board and administrators at my school failed to adequately investigate student allegations about my teacher's "sexualized behavior" for 5 years.
This is not an isolated incident. An investigation by the Toronto Star "identified 27 cases in Ontario since 2012 in which a teacher had been investigated by their school board, disciplined, and transferred to a new school." 9 of the teachers reoffended at their new schools. In the past, transferring teachers to different schools due to sexual misconduct has been shown to be a gateway to worst offenses.
These teachers' teaching licenses are not revoked because of a "grey area" within The Protecting Students Act (PSA) that according to the Toronto Star, allows teachers found guilty by the Ontario College of Teachers of acts they define as sexual abuse, including sexual touching and remarks of a sexual nature, to continue teaching after being disciplined. Oftentimes the disciplinary actions taken against the perpetrators in these cases amount to little more than a slap on the wrist, when in reality, they should have their teaching licences revoked to guarantee student safety at all times.
When the administration of my school was confronted by valid allegations against my teacher, they were dismissed as "student perceptions". This contributes to a culture where students are taught that there are little to no consequences for sexual misconduct; where students are not considered credible sources – discouraging other students from coming forward and further exposing students to the possibility of future disciplinary issues from teachers. Every student deserves the right to feel secure at school.
The only way to truly protect students from sexual misconduct by teachers and administrators is to enforce a system where student allegations are promptly addressed, and where perpetrators who are found guilty are not transferred to new schools, but have their teaching licences revoked. Schools also need a clear and comprehensive path to follow when allegations come forth.
Please sign and share this petition so we can show our Members of Provincial Parliament and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that they must act swiftly in reforming the Protecting Students Act so it truly protects Us, the students - When it comes to ending sexual misconduct by teachers and administrators in Ontario schools, there can be no time to lose.
To learn more about my teacher's "sexualized behavior" click here.
To learn more about the transfer of teachers over disciplinary issues click here.
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