Recent events at St. Michael’s College School have shed light on the need to build a more respectful culture at the school. In order to achieve this, we need to understand the truth, even if it is hard, because only then can there be learning, healing, and change.
Our action plan focuses on continuing to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, while putting the mechanisms in place to gather feedback from our community and implement changes that prevent these incidents from happening again.
We are committed to transparency in our journey and take this role with hope, faith, and a determination to continue to earn the trust of our community, while strengthening our culture of positivity and respect. We want every St. Michael’s College School experience to be transformational and positive – as it has been for the overwhelming majority of our students and graduates.
St. Michael’s College School has taken the following steps:
1. Independent Respect and Culture review
Launched the independent, Board-appointed SMCS Respect and Culture Review to examine the school’s traditions, social and cultural practices, policies, procedures and compliance. A full report is scheduled for summer 2019. The school is committed to implementing the committee’s recommendations in the 2019-20 academic year.
2. Football and basketball
Cancelled the Junior and Varsity football seasons for the 2019-20 academic year.
Cancelled the 2018-19 Varsity basketball season.
3. Co-curricular Winter programme
The Administration, Faculty, and Students are carefully preparing to resume the
co-curricular programme in January 2019 including all events involving external groups, teams, and public performances.
4. Counselling services
Introduced a range of support counselling services for students, parents, faculty and staff within 24 hours after incidents were revealed. This includes one-on-one and group services, a 24/7 phone hotline, and online resources.
5. Community town halls
Held 13 open forum sessions on campus between November 14 and December 12, where school administration shared information, answered questions, and ensured timely, transparent communication. Audiences have included students, faculty, staff, current parents, alumni, and prospective parents.
6. Anonymous student reporting tools
Launched an anonymous voicemail tip line and digital app to facilitate student reporting of unacceptable behaviour or incidents. These reporting channels are monitored and reviewed daily.
Organized and held mandatory workshops for students, faculty, and staff on building awareness, respect, coping, resiliency and other related topics. These workshops were led by external subject experts.
8. Respect and resiliency workshops
Organized and held mandatory workshops for students, faculty and staff on building awareness, respect, coping and resiliency. These workshops were led by external subject experts.
9. New staff positions
Created and currently hiring for new staff roles: a Student Wellness Officer (social work and safe school expertise) and a Dean of Students (discipline protocols, procedures, and compliance).
10. Curriculum expansion
Introducing more comprehensive instruction across all grades on topics including: healthy masculinities, consent, responsible digital citizenship, gender norms, and bystander behaviour, among other themes. Content on healthy masculinities, gender norms, and consent has been developed with the White Ribbon Campaign, which has collaborated with the school on learning modules since 2014.
11. Daily communication
Delivered daily news updates to the SMCS community through a range of channels including: Edsby (internal communications platform), email, website postings and social media (where applicable) to ensure swift, fact-based communication of new and notable information.
12. Mentorship programme
Continued to expand the school’s mentorship programme within grade levels at SMCS and externally, via a vast and varied alumni network as well as through community partnerships.
13. Internal review committee
Established an internal review committee consisting of parents, faculty, staff, and alumni. The committee will focus on identifying possible signs within the general student body that would indicate an unacceptable behaviour is occurring, suggest ways of improving bystander education and engagement by fostering safe, open dialogue and reporting channels, and addressing responsible digital citizenship.