Teacher’s regulatory board investigating complaints at a private Christian school, say complainants

The board that regulates Saskatchewan’s teachers is investigating historic complaints at a private Christian school in Saskatoon, according to former students.

Former Christian Center Academy student Caitlin Erickson says her case is being investigated by Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board (SPTRB).

Erickson says she was contacted by an investigator, who provided her with a letter from the SPTRB. She shared that letter with CBC.

She said it is good to know there is an investigation underground.

“Initially it didn’t seem like they were going to investigate because we hadn’t heard anything for months, so it was nice to hear from somebody,” said Erickson, adding she lodged her complaint last August.

“They’ve asked me for a lengthy list of things to provide.”

Caitlin Erickson says teachers need to be held to a high standard. (CBC)

Last summer, a CBC News investigation revealed 18 former students had filed criminal complaints about abuse they allegedly experienced at what is now called Legacy Christian Academy.

A proposed class-action lawsuit was then launched against Legacy Christian Academy and the connected Mile Two Church. The suit outlines allegations of paddlings, coercion, traumatizing rituals and solitary confinement that students say they experienced during their time at the school. Dozens more complainants have come forward since the lawsuit was filed.

Another complainant, Stefanie Hutchinson, said she received an email last week from an invetigator assigned to the case by SPTRB.

Hutchinson said she’ll be speaking with them by phone. She said she has mixed feelings, given how long it has taken for an investigation to happen.

“I think it is necessary and important for the SPTRB to review the case and include review of their own processes regarding how quickly they deal with complaints of this nature,” Hutchinson told CBC in an email, adding she hasn’t received any other information. or updates from the SPTRB since her complaint was submitted last August.

“That said, it should be a bit of a given that individuals being investigated criminally should not be allowed to teach until the process has concluded.”

Stefanie Hutchinson said it is good to see an investigation happening, but it should have been sooner. (Jérémie Turbide/Radio-Canada)

Trevor Smith, SPTRB’s registrar and chief operating officer, said he could neither confirm nor deny there is an investigation into these complaints.

“We don’t do that because it taints the process for everybody involved.” Smith said. “We want to make sure that there’s a fair process and we don’t want to create an apprehension of bias for anybody who may be involved.”

Smith said that in general, when SPTRB receives a complaint, it first determines if it has jurisdiction and then if an investigation is warranted.

“Then they engage with an investigator who then goes out and investigates the matter to find the facts,” he said.

“The investigator completes the report and that report goes back to the professional conduct committee.”

If the report supports the allegations and the committee believes there is a good chance of a finding of guilt at a disciplinary hearing, then they will proceed with the complaint.

If a person is found guilty the regulatory responses can range from a reprimand to revoking a teacher certificate.

Smith said investigations can range from a month to many months, depending on the complexity.

A blue banner that says
Legacy Christian Academy, formerly known as Christian Center Academy, is a private Christian school in Saskatoon. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Erickson said an investigation is a move in the right direction.

“As a certified teacher, you are held to certain standards and when those standards aren’t being met, that definitely needs to be investigated,” she said.

Last fall, Saskatchewan’s youth advocate launched her own investigation into the school because of the magnitude of the abuse allegations.

The province also updated its regulations for qualified independent schools around criminal complaints and charges.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *