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

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

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

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

She said it was good to know an investigation was ongoing.

“Initially it didn’t look like they were investigating because we hadn’t heard anything in months, so it was nice to hear from someone,” Erickson said, adding that she filed her complaint last August.

“They have asked me for a long list of things they can provide.”

Caitlin Erickson says teachers need to be kept at a high level. (CBC)

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

A proposed class action lawsuit was then filed against Legacy Christian Academy and its affiliated Mile Two Church. The suit contains allegations of paddling, coercion, traumatizing rituals and solitary confinement that students experienced during their time at the school. Dozens of other complainants have come forward since the lawsuit was filed.

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

Hutchinson said she will speak to them over the phone. She said she had mixed feelings considering how long it took for an investigation to be conducted.

“I think it is necessary and important that the SPTRB review the case and review their own processes in terms of how quickly they handle complaints of this nature,” Hutchinson told CBC in an email, adding that she had not received any further information or updates from the SPTRB since their complaint was filed last August.

“However, it should go without saying that persons under criminal investigation should not be allowed to teach until the case is complete.”

Stefanie Hutchinson said it was good to see an inquest taking place 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 that there was an investigation into these complaints.

“We don’t do that because it spoils the process for everyone involved,” Smith said. “We want to make sure there is a fair process and we don’t want to raise fears of bias in anyone who may be involved.”

Smith said that generally, when the SPTRB receives a complaint, it first determines whether it has jurisdiction and then whether an investigation is warranted.

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

“The investigator will complete the report and this report goes back to the Professional Conduct Committee.”

If the report supports the allegations and the committee considers there is a good chance of a guilty verdict at a disciplinary hearing, the complaint will proceed.

If a person is found guilty, official responses can range from a reprimand to the revocation of a teacher’s certificate.

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

A blue banner that says "Legacy of the Christian Academy" decorates a building.
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 step in the right direction.

“As a certified teacher, you’re held to certain standards, and if those standards aren’t being met, there’s an absolute need to investigate that,” she said.

Last fall, the Saskatchewan juvenile attorney launched her own investigation into the school over the scale of the abuse allegations.

The province also updated its regulations for qualifying independent schools regarding criminal complaints and indictments.

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