Board appoints experts to anti-bullying panel

The Canadian Press

HAMILTON–A southern Ontario school board that’s been criticized in the wake of the stabbing death of a 14-year-old student has appointed a team of experts to a panel meant to improve its response to bullying.
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board announced at its meeting on Tuesday that the panel will include a child psychiatrist, a former hospital executive, a former university professor and a human rights expert.
The board unanimously approved the creation of the anti-bullying panel at the end of October, three weeks after Devan Bracci-Selvey was fatally stabbed outside his high school in the city’s east end.
A 14-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man are facing first-degree murder charges. Police have alleged the boy was the one wielding the knife.
The board says the review panel’s members will seek feedback from the community and independent experts on how to prevent and respond to incidents of bullying.
The panellists include Dr. Jean Clinton, a clinical professor of child psychiatry at McMaster University; Brenda Flaherty, a former executive vice-president at Hamilton Health Sciences Centre; Gary Warner, a former professor at McMaster who has since worked with a variety of community organizations; and Kike Ojo-Thompson, an independent consultant.
“The review panel will provide us with guidance and advice on bullying prevention strategies and tactics, so that we have the best practices and tools to make our students and staff feel safe, supported and accepted,” board chair Alex Johnstone said in a written statement.
Johnstone has previously said there have been past errors in how the school board reported bullying incidents to the province, though she declined to specify what those errors were or whether they were related to Devan’s case.
Devan’s mother, who witnessed the alleged attack on her son, has said Devan was tormented by bullies in the weeks leading up to his death. She said everyone–herself included–failed him.
The board’s director of education, Manny Figueiredo, has said the school had received complaints about bullying against Devan, but has not provided details.