Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I don't need a Psychic to predict that I foresee a lawsuit in the future.

Board Use of Psychic Blasted

Toronto Sun

BARRIE -- The mother of an autistic girl says the public school board was "completely unprofessional" to formulate a theory that her daughter was being sexually abused based on a psychic's perception.

Barrie resident Colleen Leduc wants an apology from the Simcoe County District School Board, which called in the Children's Aid Society (CAS) to investigate.

According to the board, the case is still under investigation, although Leduc says it was closed.
Leduc immediately pulled her 11-year-old daughter, Victoria Nolet, out of Terry Fox Elementary School in north-end Barrie.

"I have trust issues now," Leduc said. "What are they going to concoct next week?"
Victoria has severe autism and is nonverbal.

Dr. Lindy Zaretsky, a school board superintendent whose portfolio includes special education, said the school was just following protocol, adding the board is bound by the same legislation (Child and Family Services Act) as the CAS when it comes to suspected neglect or sexual abuse.

"It is clear in all cases that this (information) must be reported," Zaretsky said.

The local CAS won't comment on specific investigations, but said the legislation stipulates that all cases of suspected abuse be reported "if there are reasonable grounds."

"The schools are our eyes and ears in the community," said Mary Ballantyne, executive director of the Simcoe County chapter. "They are with children more than anyone else in the community and are the first to spot a child who may be in need of our protection."

About 80% of the CAS's calls reporting abuse and neglect come from schools, she added.

But Leduc said information gleaned from a psychic shouldn't be the impetus for the board to launch a CAS investigation.

"First of all, what were they doing taking a psychic's word? Then they correlated that with (Victoria's) behaviour to design a theory," Leduc said.

The board stands by its decision, despite where the initial information came from. "It has not been board practice to use psychic readings," Zaretsky said.

On May 30, Leduc picked Victoria up from school, where she's enrolled in an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) class with several boys around the same age. When Leduc returned home, there was an urgent call asking her to return to the Livingstone Street East school.

Frightened, Leduc rushed back to the school. She and Victoria entered a room where they were met by the principal, the vice-principal and the teacher.

Leduc said they advised her that Victoria's educational assistant (EA) had visited a psychic, who said a youngster whose name started with "V" was being sexually abused by a man between 23 and 26 years old. Leduc was also handed a list of recent behaviours exhibited by her daughter.

School principal Brian Tremain -- who referred phone calls seeking comment to the board -- advised Leduc that the CAS had been contacted.

"That's when I got sick to my stomach," she said. "I was shocked the whole meeting."