Rehtaeh Parsons report prompts review of how school boards deal with police
HALIFAX – Concerns raised in a report about the Rehtaeh Parsons case have prompted Nova Scotia’s education minister to review how school boards deal with police investigations.
Parsons was 17 when she was taken off life-support in April 2013 after attempting suicide.
Her case attracted national attention when her family alleged she had been sexually assaulted in November 2011 at the age of 15 and then bullied after a digital photo of the alleged assault was passed around her school.
Last week, an independent report into how police and prosecutors handled the case found school board officials prevented a police investigator from talking to students at Parsons’ school.
“(The investigator) made an attempt to attend at the school to interview as many students as possible about the photo,” says the report, written by former Ontario chief prosecutor Murray Segal. “This attempt was apparently thwarted by school authorities.”
Segal’s report goes on to say that some support “at a higher level” could have helped convey to school authorities that child pornography was being disseminated throughout the school and that it was “important that either police or school authorities” speak to the students.
“Some work has also been done to clarify how schools and police interact, (but) we were informed that there is a lot of mystique around police investigations from the schools’ perspective: school authorities are loathe to act when they are aware of an active criminal investigation, because they do not want to influence the evidence or prejudice the investigation.”
On Thursday, Education Minister Karen Casey said school board officials did the right thing despite the perception they were thwarting an investigation.
“It’s my understanding that the administrators in the school did follow the protocol that had been established,” she said after a cabinet meeting.
Casey said each of the province’s school boards has its own protocol when it comes to dealing with police investigations on school property.
© 2015 The Canadian Press