The Code of Conduct for Halton Catholic Schools sets clear standards of behaviour. In accordance with the Ontario Code of Conduct, it specifies the consequences for student actions that do not comply with these standards. The standards of behaviour apply to all individuals involved in the Catholic school system – students, principals, teachers and other school staff members, parents or guardians, and volunteers whether they are on school property, on school buses or at school-authorized events or activities. It is the expectation of the Board that students will respond positively to this policy and act accordingly.
The Halton Catholic District School Board expects staff, students and community members involved in school programs and school and Board authorized activities to exhibit behaviour which complies with:
- the Halton Catholic District School Board Code of Conduct;
- the Standards of Behaviour in the Ontario Code of Conduct;
- Halton Catholic District School Board Policies II-39 (Progressive Discipline and Safety in Schools), II-40 (Bullying Prevention and Intervention) and Procedure VI 44 (Progressive Discipline and Safety in Schools);
- the Education Act.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Students are to be treated with respect and dignity. Students have the right to learn in a safe, orderly and stimulating Catholic environment and to be conscientiously instructed by the teaching staff. In return, they must demonstrate respect for themselves, for others, and for the responsibilities of citizenship through acceptable behaviour.
Students, demonstrate respect and responsibility when they:
- participate fully in the religious life of the school, including the celebration of liturgy, Religious Education courses, and related activities;
- develop personal skills and talents to serve God, and thereby his/her neighbour;
- contribute positively to the Catholic climate of the school and exhibit the responsibilities of citizenship;
- cooperate with all adults in positions of authority in the school community;
- comply with all school expectations and regulations respecting student behaviour;
- use language that is appropriate to their dignity as Catholics;
- adhere to the school dress code;
- respect the school property and property of others at all times;
- come to school prepared, on time and ready to learn;
- refrain from bringing anything to school that may compromise the safety of others;
- exercise self-discipline and accountability for their actions based on age and individual ability.
Principals, under the direction of the Board and appropriate senior staff, take a leadership role in the daily operation of a school. They provide this leadership when they:
- demonstrate care for the school community and a commitment to academic excellence in a safe teaching and learning environment;
- hold everyone, under their authority, accountable for their behaviour and actions;
- empower students to be positive leaders in their school and community;
- communicate regularly and meaningfully with all members of their school community.
Teachers and other school staff members, under the leadership of their principals, maintain order in the school and are expected to hold everyone to high standards of respectful and responsible behaviour. As Catholic role models, staff upholds these high standards when they:
- help students work to their full potential and develop their self-worth;
- empower students to be positive leaders in their classroom, school, and community;
- communicate regularly and meaningfully with parents;
- maintain consistent standards of behaviour for all students;
- demonstrate respect for all students, staff, parents, volunteers, and the members of the school community;
- prepare students for the full responsibilities of citizenship as outlined in the Catholic Graduate Expectations.
Parents play an important role in the education of their children, and can support the efforts of school staff in maintaining a safe and respectful learning environment for all students. Parents fulfill their role when they:
- show an active interest in the child’s school work and progress;
- communicate regularly with the school;
- help their child to be neat, appropriately dressed and prepared for school;
- ensure that their child attend school regularly and on time;
- promptly report to the school their child’s absence or late arrival;
- show that they are familiar with the provincial Code of Conduct, the Board’s code of conduct and the school rules;
- encourage and assist their child in following the rules of behaviour;
- assist school staff in dealing with disciplinary issues involving their child.
Police are essential partners in making our schools and communities safer. Police investigate incidents in accordance with the protocol developed with the local school board. These protocols are based on a provincial model developed by the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ministry of Education.
Progressive discipline is a non-punitive, whole-school approach that uses a continuum of corrective and supportive interventions, supports and consequences to address inappropriate behaviour and to build upon strategies that promote positive behaviours. Consequences include learning opportunities for reinforcing positive behaviour and assisting pupils to make good choices. The range of interventions, supports, and consequences used by the Board and all schools must be clear and developmentally appropriate. For pupils with special education and/or disability related needs, interventions, supports and consequences must be consistent with the expectations in the student’s IEP and/or his/her demonstrated abilities. Appropriate action must consistently be taken by schools to address behaviours that are contrary to provincial and Board Codes of Conduct.
The Board, and school administrators, must consider all mitigating and other factors, as required by the Education Act and as set out in Ontario Regulation 472/07. Progressive discipline may also include early and/or ongoing intervention strategies, such as:
- Contact with the pupil’s parent(s)/guardian(s);
- Oral reminders;
- Review of expectations;
- Written work assignment with a learning component;
- Peer mentoring;
- Referral to counseling;
- Conflict mediation and resolution; and/or
Progressive discipline may also include a range of interventions, supports and consequences when inappropriate behaviours have occurred, with a focus on improving behaviour, such as one or more of the following:
- Meeting with the pupil’s parent(s)/guardian(s), pupil and participant;
- Referral to a community agency for anger management or substance abuse counseling;
- Withdrawal of privileges;
- Withdrawal from class;
- Restitution for damages;
- Restorative practices; and/or
- Transfer with support.
- In some cases, short-term suspension may also be considered a useful progressive discipline approach.
Notwithstanding the above, the principal will take immediate and appropriate action in any situation involving the welfare of others.
SUSPENSION and EXPULSION
The Board supports the use of suspension and expulsion as outlined in Part XIII of the Education Act, the Progressive Discipline and Safety in Schools Act, 2007, Board Policy II-39, Administrative Procedure VI – 44, where a student has committed one or more of the infractions outlined below on school property, during a school-related activity or event, and/or in circumstances where the infraction has an impact on the school climate. The principal will also contact the police consistent with the Police and School Response Protocol if the infraction the pupil is suspected of committing requires such contact. When in doubt, the principal will consult with his or her Superintendent.
The infractions for which a suspension may be imposed by the principal include:
- Uttering a threat to inflict serious bodily harm on another person;
- Possessing alcohol, illegal and/or restricted drugs;
- Being under the influence of alcohol;
- Swearing at a teacher or at another person in a position of authority;
- Committing an act of vandalism that causes extensive damage to school property at the pupil’s school or to property located on the premises of the pupil’s school;
Aggressive and typically repeated behaviour by a pupil where;
(a) the behaviour is intended by the pupil to have the effect of, or the pupil ought to know that the behaviour would be likely to have the effect of;
- i) causing harm, fear or distress to another individual, including physical, psychological, social or academic harm, harm to the individual’s reputation or harm to the individual’s property, or
- ii) creating a negative environment at a school for another individual, and
- b) the behaviour occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance between the pupil and the individual based on factors such as size, strength, age, intelligence, peer group power, economic status, social status, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, family circumstances, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, disability or receipt of special education; (“intimidation”)
Behaviour includes the use of any physical, verbal, electronic, written or other means.
Bullying includes bullying by electronic means (COMMONLY KNOWN AS CYBER-BULLYING), including,
(a) creating a web page or a blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person;
(b) impersonating another person as the author of content or messages posted on the internet; and
(c) communicating material electronically to more than one individual or posting material on a website that may be accessed by one or more individuals.
- Any act considered by the principal to be injurious to the moral tone of the school;
- Any act considered by the principal to be injurious to the physical or mental well-being of members of the school community;
- Any act considered by the principal to be contrary to the Board or School Code of Conduct including but not limited to the following:
- Academic dishonesty – attempting to deceive by cheating, copying or plagiarizing
- Alcohol – being under the influence of or in possession of
- Defiance – refusal to comply with persons in authority
- Disorderly conduct – persistent opposition to authority, conduct injurious to the moral tone of the school or to the physical and mental well-being of others in school
- Drugs – being under the influence or in possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia (including electronic vaporizers)
- Explosive devices – use of or possession of explosive devices
- Extortion – to take money, homework or property under threat of harm or duress
- Fire setting, bomb threat, fire alarm – setting a fire or an act that places individuals, property or community at risk
- Harassment – repeated comments or conduct that is known or ought to be known as unwelcome
- Hate Crimes – words or actions considered offensive in reference to a person’s race, religion, culture, gender, age, appearance or disability
- Sexting – the sending of sexually explicit photos, images, text messages, or e-mails by using a cell phone or other electronic device
- Smoking/e-cigarette/vaporizers on school property/ – violation of the Tobacco Control Act and/or School and Board Policies
- Theft – taking, possessing property without the permission of the owner
- Trespass – unauthorized presence on school property
- Truancy – persistent unexplained absence
- Vehicle use – reckless or dangerous use of a vehicle i.e. Car, motorcycle, bicycle etc.
A pupil may be suspended only once for any incident of an infraction may be suspended for a minimum of one (1) school day and a maximum of twenty (20) school days.
Given reasonable grounds to believe that a pupil has committed one or more infractions outlined below on school property, during a school related activity or even, and/or in circumstances where the infraction has an impact on the school climate, the principal will suspend the pupil and may recommend an expulsion. When in doubt, the principal will consult with his or her Superintendent. The enumerated activities are:
- Possessing a weapon, including possessing a firearm;
- Using a weapon to cause or to threaten bodily harm to another person;
- Committing physical assault on another person that causes bodily harm requiring treatment by a medical practitioner;
- Committing sexual assault;
- Trafficking in weapons or restricted drugs;
- Committing robbery;
- Giving alcohol to a minor;
- An act considered by the principal to be significantly injurious to the moral tone of the school and/or to the physical or mental well-being of others (e.g., theft, academic dishonesty, hazing activities, harassment, verbal abuse, extortion, possession of an explosive substance, distribution of hate material, etc.);
- A pattern of behaviour that is so inappropriate that the student’s continued presence is injurious to the effective learning and/or working environment of others;
- Activities engaged in by the student on or off school property that cause the student’s continuing presence in the school to create an unacceptable risk to the physical or mental well-being of other person(s) in the school or Board;
- Activities engaged in by the student on or off school property that have caused extensive damage to the property of the Board or to goods that are/were on the Board’s property, (e.g. inappropriate use of electronic and/or voice mail systems, fire setting, etc.);
- The student has demonstrated through a pattern of behaviour that s/he has not prospered by the instruction available to him or her and that s/he is persistently resistant to making changes in behaviour which would enable him or her to prosper, e.g. neglect of duty, truancy, consistent opposition to authority, etc); or
- Any act considered by the principal to be a serious violation of the Board or school Code of Conduct.
In accordance with the Police and School Response Protocol/School Board Procedural Protocol, police shall be contacted by the principal for but not limited to the above infractions. Consequences resulting from criminal charges related to school incidents are independent of those imposed under the Education Act.
Before deciding whether to impose a suspension, expulsion or some other form of discipline, a principal will make every effort to consult with the pupil, where appropriate, and the pupil’s parent(s)/guardian(s) (if the pupil is not an adult pupil) to identify whether any mitigating and/or other factors might apply in the circumstances.
The mitigating factors to be considered by the principal before deciding whether to impose a suspension are:
- Whether the pupil has the ability to control his or her behaviour;
- Whether the pupil has the ability to understand the foreseeable consequences of his or her behaviour; and
- Whether the pupil’s continuing presence in the school does or does not create an unacceptable risk to the safety of any other individual at the school.
If a pupil does not have the ability to control his or her behaviour or does not understand the foreseeable consequences of his/her behaviour, the principal will not suspend the pupil. Alternative discipline and/or other intervention may be considered by the principal in such circumstances. If the pupil poses an unacceptable risk to the safety of others in the school, the principal will consult with his/her Superintendent regarding appropriate accommodations and/or strategies that might be instituted to ensure safety of pupils, staff, and others in the school.
Other Factors to be Considered – Where the pupil is able to control his/her behaviour and is able to understand the foreseeable consequences of his/her behaviour, the principal will consider whether the following factors mitigate the length of a suspension or the decision to apply a suspension as a form of discipline for the pupil:
- The pupil’s academic, discipline and personal history;
- Whether progressive discipline has been attempted with the pupil, and if so, the progressive discipline approach(es) that has/have been attempted and any success or failure;
- Whether the infraction for which the pupil might be disciplined was related to any harassment of the pupil because of race, ethnic origin, religion, creed, disability, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation or harassment for any other reason;
- The impact of the discipline on the pupil’s prospects for further education;
- The pupil’s age;
- Where the pupil has an IEP or disability related needs:
- Whether the behaviour causing the incident was a manifestation of the pupil’s disability;
- Whether appropriate individualized accommodation has been provided; and
- Whether a suspension is likely to result in aggravating or worsening the pupil’s behaviour or conduct or whether a suspension is likely to result in a greater likelihood of further inappropriate conduct; and Whether or not the pupil’s continuing presence at the school creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of anyone in the school.
VIOLENT THREAT RISK ASSESSMENT (VTRA)
It is recognized by the Halton Catholic District School Board, the Halton Police Services Board and other community stakeholders that incidents of violence in schools are often preventable through early intervention in response to threatening behaviour or non-threatening but worrisome behaviour. Taking steps to identify at risk students through early and ongoing assessment and intervention strategies may reduce the need for disciplinary action and police interventions. School teams may carry out a Violent Threat Risk Assessment in such situations and will act accordingly to support the student(s).