Parents outraged after alleged sex predator allowed as volunteer at school

Parents are outraged that a man posing as a clergyman, who successfully volunteered at their children’s school, was known to police.

A Toronto Police press release services shows that a search of Michael Harman’s apartment resulted in a charge of two counts of possession of child pornography and making it available.

Stephanie Smith, a mother of four, is outraged that Michael Harman, 37, was allowed to volunteer at Glamorgan Junior Public School in the Kennedy and Hwy 401 area. The school has a population of 750 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 6.

“We (parents) trust the schools with our children and we don’t want to have to be scared to send our children to school.  I am mad that a complete stranger is volunteering at my daughter’s school,” Smith said.

Marilyn Villet, a principal at F.H Miller elementary school, insists unqualified strangers from off the street are not welcome to volunteer, teach nor work in schools. She said outsiders must follow the correct procedure prior to volunteering in a school.

“Strangers without the proper credentials are not allowed in our schools. The screening process prior to volunteering with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is vital,” Villet said.

Volunteering in an elementary school is a multi-stage process. According to Villet, the procedures include a successful police check, which is then forwarded to TDSB.

Candidates then complete a volunteer form and meet with the school principal, who verifies the volunteer’s qualifications.

Beverley Francis, with children in the TDSB, is upset that a man allegedly volunteered without the appropriate qualifications. She fears he may not have even been properly processed.

“It gets me mad because people working and volunteering with children especially in school should be qualified,” Francis said. “It’s not right. The school board should take accountability.”

According to Glamorgan Junior Public School’s trustee Soo Wong, this issue has been fully addressed by the school principal, Kathy Frame Adhead and the superintendent Gloria Baxter.

Wong says parents were reassured at a community meeting held at Glamorgan Junior Public School that their children are safe in schools and this was an isolated incident.

“For your information, the superintendent and principal held a school community meeting last week on this matter; it was well attended by the community including Toronto Police and myself,” Wong said.

About this article

By: Odessa Anderson
Posted: Feb 10 2008 12:00 pm
Filed under: News