Drowned teen failed swim test prior to school's Algonquin canoe trip: TDSB
More than half the students on a school canoe trip that ended in tragedy last month could not swim and should never have been allowed to go to Algonquin Park.
The Toronto District School Board made this troubling admission Wednesday while releasing the preliminary findings of its investigation into the drowning of Jeremiah Perry, a 15-year-old C.W. Jefferys high school student.
Of the 32 students who went on the school camping excursion, Perry and 14 others failed their pre-trip swim test and two did not take the test at all, the TDSB admitted.
Fortunately there werenât more tragedies, Joshua Anderson, Jeremiahâs father, told the CBC.
His message to parents was âjust go down on your knees and thank God that you guys arenât the ones who got the call in the night ... because it could have been worse, given the numbers that everyone found out to day, it could have been worse.â
Perry was enjoying an evening swim with schoolmates in Big Trout Lake on July 4 when he suddenly disappeared beneath the water. The multi-day trip was immediately halted and participating students, including Perryâs older brother, were returned to the city.
The body of the Grade 9 student, who recently emigrated from Guyana, was recovered the next day.
âIâm deeply troubled by these findings and that such a critical safety requirement in our procedures appears not to have been followed,â education director John Malloy said at TDSB headquarters.
âUnderstandably, (the dead teenâs parents) have been searching for answers since their sonâs death and weâve been intent on getting answers to them as quickly as possible,â he said. âI said to them, and I say publicly now: âOn behalf of the TDSB I offer our most sincere apology and regret.ââ
Malloy said the âinternal approval forms for this sp ecific tripâ made it clear students had to pass a swim test at a lake in order to participate in the trip.
He added students who did not initially pass were to be given an additional opportunity to take the test after swim lessons and one-on-one coaching in the C.W. Jefferys pool.
But Malloy said itâs believed âno further swim tests or instruction was providedâ to the 15 students who failed the initial test or the two who didnât take it.
âThe information that we have is that the students did not pass the test and should not have been on the trip,â Malloy said.
Itâs unclear why guidelines were not followed because two teachers who organized and led the trip, on the advice of legal counsel, have not spoken to board investigators. Malloy said both are currently on âhome assignment.â
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