School principal testifies on protocol

 Aleksandr Plehanov - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Aleksandr Plehanov
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Glen elementary principal Derek Passaglia testified Tuesday afternoon that when a student and her mother came to see him on March 10, 2010 the mother was visibly distraught.

The pair arrived at the school shortly after 4 p.m., with the mother "visibly anxious and upset," Passaglia said. "It was obvious she really needed to speak with me."

He invited them into his office, where over the next hour they discussed an alleged incident of inappropriate touching of the seven-year-old girl by former Coquitlam substitute teacher Aleksandr Plehanov.

Plehanov is facing charges of sexual interference and sexual assault involving five students who were aged seven and eight at the time of the alleged incidents in 2010. He is also charged with criminal harassment in connection with actions that took place in June 2010 and involved one of the families of the alleged victims.

His trial started in Port Coquitlam provincial court Tuesday and is expected to last two weeks.

Passaglia said he told the girl he was proud of her for sharing the information with her mother and himself, assured her she had done nothing wrong and that he would take the appropriate steps "from this point on to ensure she and others were safe."

When Crown counsel Wendy Harvey asked Passaglia what the girl's emotional state was he testified that she was "scared, confused and anxious" during the discussion.

He said the protocol in a situation like this was to report the information to his superior, assistant superintendent Maureen Dockendorf. Passaglia testified he called her the evening of March 10, 2010 and that it was up to the district on whether Plehanov should be allowed back to the school.

Passaglia said when he got home that evening there was a message on his phone from Coquitlam RCMP Const. Dopson, who had attended at the home of the girl who first reported that Plenahov, or "Mr. P," as he was called by students, had allegedly touched her inappropriately.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Lisa Helps, Passaglia confirmed that the school district's human resources director, Jamie Ross, had told him there had been allegations regarding Plehanov before March 2010.

Plehanov was arrested March 18, 2010 and his teaching licence was suspended.

Testimony from some of the students involved in the alleged incidents is expected later this week.

The trial continues.


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