Alleged Shuswap bullying prompts lawsuit

Woman suing North Okanagan-Shuswap School District alleging the district failed to protect her son from bullying and harassment...

  • Nov. 2, 2012 9:00 a.m.

tracy hughes

Black Press

A Salmon Arm woman is suing the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District in small claims court seeking damages for lost wages after she says bullying forced her to pull her son from public school and home school him instead.

Leanne McIvor has filed documents in Salmon Arm court alleging the school district breached a duty of care by failing to protect her son from bullying and harrassment.

She also alleges the school district is liable by failing to adopt, enforce and update school policies on bullying, harassment and human rights conditions after a provincial ministerial order regarding human rights was issued to all school districts in 2007.

In a statement submitted by McIvor to the courts and media, she says her efforts to resolve the situation with school administration and trustees have been unsatisfactory.

“I have turned to litigation,” she writes, “just because my child and 300,000 children per month that report bullying in Canadian schools are not being heard.”

“You hear so much talking in the media and the current culture of zero tolerance and bullying. It would seem that the schools have this under control. They don’t.”

The school district would not comment on this specific case as it is before the courts, but Glen Borthistle, acting superintendent, says the school district takes bullying seriously and has policies to deal with it at the school board level, as well as with many ongoing district and school programs for students and staff.

“…Speaking generally, the district, under the umbrella of student safety and wellness, has a multi-faceted approach to this complex issue by raising awareness of the bullying issue encouraging prevention as well as intervention programs. The wellness umbrella helps the district deal with the underlying causes of bullying and helps students learn about building positive relationships, and about the importance of mental health and physical wellness.”

McIvor is seeking compensation for lost wages, saying she has been unable to gain employment, “due to the fact that I have to home school my son since 2009-2012, this has not been a choice but a necessity to ensure the well being of my son.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The case is scheduled to be heard Jan. 25.