EDUCATION–Creating A Safer and More Respectful Environment InSchools Teachers and other staff from school boards across the provinceare learning how to create a safer, and more respectfulenvironment in their schools. The Department of Education is providing a series of trainingsessions to selected staff, who will then return to their schoolboards and conduct awareness sessions with all school communitymembers. The sessions clearly identify the rights, obligations andresponsibilities that adults in the school community have whendealing with suspected cases of sexual abuse, discrimination andsexual harassment. “This means even greater protection for our young people,” saidEducation Minister Jamie Muir. “By developing stronger and moreconsistent policies, and increasing awareness among staff, schoolboards are taking a big step toward ensuring that students willbe learning in a safer, more respectful environment.” Boards have received guidelines from the Department of Educationand some have already developed strengthened protection ofstudents policies. “This is going to provide all adults in the school community witha very clear mechanism to report cases of child abuse,discrimination and sexual harassment,” said Beth MacIsaac,director of human resources for the Cape Breton Victoria RegionalSchool Board. “This will help bring forward issues so they can beaddressed and dealt with.” The training sessions and policy framework guidelines werepromised in the province’s Learning for Life Plan, released inSeptember 2002. Other parts of the overall student protection strategy havealready been put in place. They include mandatory criminal, childabuse and reference checks for all new staff, volunteers andother adults (including teacher education students) who work withstudents in schools. The strategy also requires school boards to report to theregistrar of teacher certification any time a teacher isterminated, resigns or is refused employment if a reference checkreveals a reason related to the teacher’s character or conductthat could make him or her unsuitable to teach in Nova Scotia.