The Ministry of Education has recently released the Provincial Standards for Codes of Conduct Order (Ministerial Order M276/07). The Order sets out the provincial standards for the code(s) that boards are required to implement pursuant to section 85(1.1) of the School Act.
The new Order provides that boards of education establish one or more codes of conduct for the schools within their school district. It also requires that boards ensure that schools within their school district implement the code(s). In developing the code(s), boards are expected to consult with employees, parents and students.
The Order requires that the code(s) must, among other things, include:
- one or more statements that address the prohibited grounds of discrimination set out in the BC Human Rights Code in respect of discriminatory publication and discrimination in accommodation, service and facility in the school environment;
- a statement of purpose that provides a rationale for the code of conduct, with a focus on safe, caring and orderly schools;
- statements regarding acceptable and unacceptable behaviour;
- an explanation that the board will take all reasonable steps to prevent retaliation by a person against a student who had made a complaint of a breach of a code of conduct; and
- one or more statements about the consequences of unacceptable behaviour which takes into account the student’s age, maturity and special needs, if any.
The Order also provides that the code(s) of conduct must include statements about consequences of unacceptable behaviour and must:
- whenever possible and appropriate, focus on consequences that are restorative in nature rather than punitive; and
- include an explanation that special considerations may apply to students with special needs if these students are unable to comply with a code of conduct.
The distribution, display and annual review of the code(s) are also addressed in the Order.
Codes of conduct at both the district and school level are already in place in most school districts around the Province. With the enactment of the new Order, it is important that boards of education review their district and school codes of conduct in order to ensure they meet the standards and requirements outlined in the new Ministerial Order.