Crisis team helps Ajax school deal with teacher’s murder charge

  • January 6, 2011
AJAX, Ont.- A crisis response team is helping students at Ajax’s St. Francis de Sales Elementary School cope with the news that one of their teachers has been accused of trying to kill his wife while on a pre-Christmas Jamaican vacation.

Tracy Barrill, superintendent of education for the Durham Catholic District School Board, visited the school Jan. 3, the first day of classes for students returning from the Christmas break, along with the board’s crisis response team led by the board’s chief psychologist, Dr. Ian Brown.

“This is a type of situation that no one can anticipate. We certainly are shocked and saddened by what has occurred and are praying for them, praying for everybody who has been affected,” Barrill said.

Paul Martin, 43, has been denied bail and remains in a Jamaican prison until Jan. 21 when he will be in court to face attempted murder charges. Martin is alleged to have attempted to kill his wife, Cathy-Lee, as they were preparing to return from a Caribbean vacation.

He taught 28 students in Grade 5 and 6 at St. Frances de Sales.

Sixty parents came to the school on Jan. 3 and met with Brown who suggested to parents some “normal responses for stress and trauma,” she said. Teachers were advised to look out for symptoms of trauma in their students and instructed on how to approach the subject with students.

“Children are very resilient. At least in one class, kids spoke about how great their parents had been in talking to them about the issues and helping them work through it,” Barrill said. “They’re having an opportunity to express their feelings right now.”

The parish priest has also been on hand for students, she said.

“We have a good relationship with our parish priest, Fr. Roy (Roberts), who arrived at the school. He was on hand to be present for staff and students,” Barrill said.

Extra staff personnel including social workers and counsellors were also on hand.

Additional support will be at the school on an “as needed basis,” in addition to the regular counsellors available to students at each of the Durham Catholic schools.

Once it was confirmed that a teacher at the school was linked to the news reports, Barrill said St. Francis de Sales’ principal, David Malleau, contacted the school’s teachers, parent council and parents of each student in Martin’s class individually to inform them. Asked whether Martin was still employed as a teacher at the school, Barrill said she was unable to comment on Martin’s employment status. A teacher who previously worked at the board has been hired to teach Martin’s classes, she added

In a Jamaican court, Martin’s wife testified her husband tried to kill her on Dec. 23 after making accusations that she was having an extramarital affair, which she has denied.

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