Tofino mayor Dan Law is accusing Ucluelet Secondary School of mishandling an incident involving his 14-year-old daughter and is questioning the school’s handling of bullying incidents in general.
Law told the Westerly News that his daughter Josephina, then a 13-year-old Grade 8 student at USS, was cleaning up after gym class on April 21, when two boys began throwing pickleball paddles.
He said a paddle struck Josephina in the mouth, causing significant injuries that required emergency surgery, including a severed lip and gums as well as broken teeth. He said she’ll require ongoing surgery to her gums and ongoing extensive dental work.
Law said he and his wife were initially told by school officials there had been an accident with a piece of gym equipment, but that the details they were given were vague and witnesses reached out to refute the school’s interpretation of events.
“Witnesses agreed that it appeared intentional and very forceful,” he said.
He said the incident was initially investigated by an education official who is related to one of the two boys and has ties with the family of the other boy.
Law said his concerns were dismissed, so he reached out to the superintendent of schools and he was told the investigation was renewed by a different USS administrator.
“Since then, I’ve had more concerns, repeated concerns, about the way the incident was handled, how the incident was framed and reframed and I’ve continued to bring my concerns forward,” he said. “One of our ultimate goals is to help ensure the school is a safe and nurturing place for students.”
He said he would like to see an independent investigation of the incident and “significant changes” to USS, adding he has heard about other incidents at the school not being handled thoroughly.
Law said his daughter switched schools after the incident and he waited approximately four months before making his concerns public as he exhausted all other avenues.
“It has been a long process and a careful process, I’ve tried to act as diligently as I could and the whole time of course this has been very traumatic for our family,” he said. “Another thing that has been shocking for us is that there is no offer of remuneration from anybody. The school has refused to take any responsibility and is refusing to cover any of the costs.”
The Westerly reached out to SD70 for comment, but did not receive a response by presstime.
READ MORE: COLUMN: The lingering effects of bullying