Hamilton public school board trustees have approved their first response to bullying and school violence since the stabbing death of a 14 year old student three weeks ago.
Trustees have voted to create a “Bullying Prevention and Intervention Review Panel,” which will consist of three local experts in equity, diversity and mental health.
The panel will provide recommendations by May 31, 2020 after listening to students, parents and the community about their experiences.
The issue has been front and centre in the community since Oct. 7, when 14-year-old Devan Bracci-Selvey was stabbed to death outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School.
Investigators say he was stabbed in front of his mother and died in her arms. Two teenagers, an 18-year-old and 14-year-old, are charged with first-degree murder.
Shari-Ann Selvey, Devan’s mother, was visibly upset following the unanimous vote by trustees to create the review panel on Monday night.
Keven Ellis, speaking on Shari’s behalf, says she thinks “nothing will happen” and the school board is “buying time,” hoping that by the end of May “most of us will have forgotten what happened here.”
Ellis also claims that despite talking about wanting to reach out and have a better understanding of what happened, not one representative from the school board “has picked up the phone and talked to that woman” in the three weeks since her son was killed.
Trustee Kathy Archer also voiced concerns with waiting until spring for recommendations, stressing that, right now, “we have students that are terrified to go to school.”
Manny Figueredo, director of education for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, estimates the review will cost up to $150,000.
He says it will focus on four areas around bullying — prevention, intervention, reporting and responding.
Board Chair Alex Johnstone insists that the “safety and security of our students and staff are our utmost priority,” adding that some supports have already been put in place, including behaviour consultants and child support workers.