By Jack Wilson
Local Journalism Initiative
Appalachian Teachers’ Association (ATA) president April Blampied questioned Eastern Townships School Board (ETSB) chair Mike Murray about violence in schools at the Council of Commissioners meeting June 27. Commissioners approved an operating budget for the next school year, passed a slew of construction projects and discussed school initiatives.
Citing a recent Record article on student behaviour, Blampied asked Murray whether he’d “agree that violence in ETSB in schools is on the rise.” Murray refused, suggesting that “there may have been a phenomenon under which by making the definition of violence so broad, it has made it seem more prevalent.” He said that he’d heard mixed interpretations of whether violence was on the rise. “No, I can’t just agree to the blanket statement that violence has increased, I think there are many aspects to violence that would need to be nuanced before we can have a serious discussion about it.”
Blampied responded that the ATA survey found a 16 per cent increase in violence over the past year and asked whether ETSB commissioners would want to collaborate in a response to the report’s findings. Murray said he was receptive to the proposal.
In the question period following the meeting, Blampied continued her line of questioning, asking Murray why the January ETSB annual report listed just two violent incidents when, “from our ATA survey we have nine teachers who reported being directly involved in a violent situation where police intervention was needed, not to mention other incidents.”
Those two incidents, “were the acts that were reported to us,” Murray said. “We rely on our school to report acts to us and if we don’t hear of them then we are unaware of them.”
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