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Astral Drive Junior High School is pictured on June 3, 2023. (Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting)

Junior high students in Cole Harbour can voice safety concerns with HRCE

By Jacob Moore Jun 4, 2024 | 5:49 PM

Staff from the Halifax Regional Education Centre and a Cole Harbour junior high school are meeting with students this week to discuss violence and safety in their school.

The goal is to let students voice their concerns after dozens walked out of class on Friday to protest violence in their school.

Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Ryan Lutes says teachers have been concerned about violence in schools for a few years.

“It’s a complete failure of the system, when our students are so fed up with a problem, that they feel like there’s no other option but to kind of take it into their own hands, and I think that’s what they did,” says Lutes.

“It’s a cry for help.”

On Tuesday, there was a violent incident involving a “dysregulated” student at Astral Drive Junior High School, according to an email from Halifax Regional Education Centre spokesperson Lindsey Bunin. The school entered a hold and secure.

Bunin says it was a “serious incident, and serious and immediate consequences” for the student are in place, following the Provincial School Code of Conduct Policy.

Consultants with HRCE and Astral Drive Junior High School were on site to talk with students on Monday. Bunin says those conversations are confidential so students feel comfortable to share their thoughts.

Consultants will continue meeting with students throughout the week, and any child who wants to talk will have the chance, she says.

“Safety of students and staff is our highest priority, and all incidents are taken seriously. Violent behaviour is never tolerated,” she says.

Lutes says students and staff in Nova Scotia schools should feel safe in a school, but schools aren’t as safe as they need to be.

Board chair for the Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia, Scott Armstrong, says it’s always concerning when an incident like this affects the whole community.

He says his association, along with the province and the teachers Nova Scotia Teachers Union, have been reviewing the school code of conduct since around the beginning of 2024, he says.

He estimates the review would be done by September 2025, in time for the school year.