By Ruth Davenport
The provincial education minister has asked the Halifax Regional School Board to review its handling of the case of a Cole Harbour teen who was allegedly raped and then bullied into taking her own life.
Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, died in hospital on Sunday, several days after hanging herself. Her family says she was relentlessly persecuted by friends and schoolmates after being raped by four boys – and photographed during the crime.
The photo was then spread around her school, and although police investigated, no charges were laid.
Education Minister Ramona Jennex issued a release after meeting with HRSB Superintendant Judy White and board chair Gin Yee, asking them to launch the review process.
“If there are gaps in the education system that need to be addressed and fixed to ensure more families in the province don’t have to go through the same horrific tragedy as the Parsons family, we will do whatever we can to close those gaps as quickly as possible,” said Jennex in the release.
Premier Darrell Dexter said earlier in the day a “comprehensive review” is needed to find out what, if anything, could have been done to prevent Rehtaeh’s death.
Dexter said it raises the question of working with the federal government to add new provisions to the Criminal Code of Canada that would address technology-related acts.
Liberal education critic Karen Casey said she’d tried to amend the province’s anti-bullying legislation with a similar provision about 18 months ago, but it was voted down by the NDP-dominated law amendments committee.
Justice Minister Ross Landry said early Tuesday he would not order a review of the RCMP handling of the file, but reversed that position late Tuesday night with a statement that he would have senior government officials present “options” for a review of the case as soon as possible.
Dexter said he didn’t order Landry to move on a review, but said he was involved in the conversation on an “ongoing basis.”