OCDSB Statement: Response to Ottawa Police Association

OCDSB Statement: Response to Ottawa Police Association
Posted on 05/04/2023

On Wednesday, May 3, the OCDSB received a letter from the president of the Ottawa Police Association (OPA) expressing disappointment regarding a parent who was invited to speak to a class about her work as a police officer. To align with Board Policy regarding police involvement in schools, she had been asked not to wear a uniform or arrive at the school in a police vehicle.

The OCDSB appreciates and respects the work that police officers do to keep our schools and community safe. Director of Education Michele Giroux immediately reached out to speak with OPA President Matthew Cox and sent a follow-up letter on Wednesday evening inviting Mr. Cox to meet to discuss policing in schools. Mr. Cox agreed a sit-down conversation would be beneficial. A meeting is being scheduled for next week.

A copy of the letter sent to Mr. Cox is shared below and provides some important context and background to this issue.  

"I appreciate the many perspectives and concerns that have been raised on this matter. Our priority is to work collaboratively with the Ottawa Police to develop protocols that support student learning and school safety and are responsive to the community concerns," said Michele Giroux.

Letter To Ottawa Police Association President

3 May 2023

Dear Matthew,

Thank you for your letter and for raising your concerns with me.  I appreciated the opportunity to speak with you this afternoon.

The Ottawa Police Service is an important community partner to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.  Over the past two years, there has been a lot of change in both organizations and how we work together.  We share a common commitment to serving the diverse needs of our community and a recognition of the importance of building relationships of trust.  With that in mind, I would like to arrange a meeting with you to discuss police services to schools and better understand the perspective of your members.  This will be an important first step in mapping out a path forward.  I will also be reaching out to Chief Stubbs to arrange a meeting with him about the relationship between the OCDSB and OPS and the need for us to build a new partnership protocol.   

When we spoke earlier today, I briefly explained that the OCDSB undertook a review of police involvement in schools in 2021. That review included consultation with many individuals and groups in the community about their experiences in school and in particular, how their experience may have been affected where there was police involvement. Following that review, the Board passed a motion (copy attached) that ended engagement with the School Resource Officer program and shifted to working with the Ottawa Police Service to “meet its minimum statutory obligations under the relevant provincial protocols until further evaluation is complete”.  Following the Board decision, the district moved towards an emergency response based relationship with police and away from having uniformed officers in schools providing direct learning to students.

Today, you have raised a question about the impact of that motion on a parent who is also a police officer.  The parent was warmly invited to attend and to share her work experience with the class, but asked to do so without the uniform and the police car.  It was an effort to find a balance between the direction of the Board, student learning, parent engagement, and safety.  Your letter highlights the need for us to bring greater clarity to our practice.

There will be some who say that the easy path forward is to allow the parent to attend in uniform; others will maintain that uniforms and police cars are not essential to classroom learning about policing.  The Board decision remains in place until “further evaluation is complete”.  After careful consideration, I do not believe that any decision on this single incident will bring clarity to practice. That will only come as a result of more fulsome discussions about how the OPS and OCDSB can work together to support student learning, well-being, and safety.  These discussions will need to reflect on the concerns that the community raised during our police involvement in schools review, with an intentional commitment on the part of both parties to building new practices.

This work is overdue and I appreciate your letter today was a catalyst for moving forward.


Michele Giroux

Director of Education and Secretary to the Board


OCDSB Board Motion on Police Involvement in Schools

June 24 2021 

  1. THAT the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board immediately and completely end its engagement with the School Resource Officer program;

  2. THAT the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) provides notice to Ottawa Police Service that as of 1 September 2021, the OCDSB shall only meet its minimum statutory obligations under the relevant provincial protocols and acts until further evaluation is complete;

  3. THAT the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) issue a formal apology, published on the OCDSB website, social media, and in the local papers, to the communities and students who have been harmed by the School Resource Officer program;

  4. That the OCDSB invite other Ottawa school districts, the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Police Services, and community partners representing equity-seeking groups and groups that experience discrimination and oppression, to work collaboratively through a process that is guided by a human rights based approach on improving services and supports for youth in crisis, in alignment with our shared commitments to The United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024 and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action;

  5. That the Chair of the Board write a letter to the City of Ottawa, including the Anti-Racism Secretariat and to Ottawa Police Services recommending that any savings accruing from a reduction in police services to OCDSB schools be redirected to support the development of alternative approaches to crisis intervention for youth in collaboration with community partners, and requesting a meeting to discuss further;

  6. THAT the Board adopt a do no harm approach as a guiding principle  when an incident or a series of incidents arise that involve harm, especially related to anti-racism, human rights, equity, and inclusion;

  7. THAT the Board of Trustees reaffirm its commitment to incorporating an intersectional and anti-racism analysis lens as new policies are adopted and existing policies are updated; and

  8. THAT the Board of Trustees commit to undertake anti-racism and decolonization training with support from Board Services.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.