An education lawyer said he receives an unusual number of complaints from parents about bullying at St. Michael’s College School.
The private all-boys Catholic school has been in the spotlight this week due to reports about alleged assaults at the school, one sexual in nature.
John Schuman, an alumni of St. Mike’s himself, said he has heard from two parents about alleged bullying at the school since September, and he usually gets a couple of complaints about the school each year. He added it’s unusual to hear about incidents from the same school over and over again.
He also said he heard of hazing rituals, especially in football and basketball, when he was a student at the school in the 1980s.
CityNews interviewed Schuman about bullying at the school. Read the Q&A below.
CityNews: What are parents reaching out to you about?
Schuman: Bullying in school. Some kids don’t want to go back to school. Some parents have taken their kids out of the school.
C: How many parents have reached out to you this school year?
S: Two since September, a couple last school year and a couple the year before that.
I hear from a lot of parents about bullying, but (so many) parents from one school is unusual. I’d hear a bunch from the same school board, but hearing from the same school over and over again is very unusual.
I head about the sort of stuff when I was there (in the 1980s). I didn’t see it first-hand but talked to other students about it happening.
Hazing was definitely a thing every year, especially in football and basketball.
C: Even as extreme as stripping someone down, as in the videos circulating?
S: That’s the stuff I heard about. It was happening every year.
All the kids talked about it and knew about it going on, but never heard about the school to reacting to it.
There was a different approach back then. Today, we know it is terrible. The Ministry of Education has really required that publicly-funded schools have anti-bullying policies, anti-bullying programs and education for teachers. All of that has been mandated.
I thought that created a culture shift in the way educators think about bullying. The fact it’s still going on in an independent school is surprising to me. This is a deviation (from) what everyone else is doing in education.
I’m surprised it’s still going on now. It continues on with all we know about bullying and harassment and long-term effects … Not taking proactive steps is surprising to me.
With files from Shauna Hunt