In response to allegations of improper sexual conduct involving a former teacher, Upper Canada College is asking its alumni to come forward with any information about his behaviour while at the school.
Peter Dalglish, a prominent humanitarian worker who taught at the prestigious Toronto boys school from 1998 to 2002, was arrested in Nepal last month on suspicion of sexual offences involving children. He is currently being held in a Nepalese jail. Mr. Dalglish, who spoke to The Globe and Mail from his jail cell last month, said he is innocent and denied the allegations.
In a letter to alumni sent on Tuesday, UCC principal Sam McKinney and board of governors chair Russell Higgins said the arrest of the former teacher is deeply concerning.
“We are reaching out to members of the UCC community to inform them of the allegations against Mr. Dalglish in Nepal and to ask them to come forward should they have any knowledge of inappropriate behaviour by Mr. Dalglish during his time at UCC,” the letter states.
Mr. Dalglish has had no involvement with the school since his departure in 2002, according to UCC. He was a full-time member of faculty between 1998 and 2000, and worked on a part-time basis from 2000 to 2002, primarily in a consulting capacity, UCC said.
“Should any information come forward regarding inappropriate behaviour, UCC will, as we have in the past, undertake a thorough investigation into those allegations,” the school said in a statement.
Mr. Dalglish is a well-known humanitarian worker who co-founded Street Kids International and has worked in trouble spots across the globe, from Central America to Afghanistan and Africa. In 2016, he was named to the Order of Canada for having devoted his life to helping children escape poverty. He attended UCC as a teenager before attending Stanford University and Dalhousie Law School.
In recent years, he worked for UN-Habitat in Afghanistan and then in Liberia in response to the Ebola crisis. He has also been a frequent speaker at international schools around the world and was a board member at the United World College Thailand, which suspended his position after his arrest.
In the letter to alumni, UCC emphasized its commitment to providing a safe and secure learning environment. It referred to a number of policies put in place roughly 15 years ago when the school was responding to other allegations of improper sexual conduct brought against former UCC faculty members. Douglas Brown, a former teacher and dorm master, was convicted in 2004 of nine counts of indecent assault involving students who attended the school in the mid- to late 1970s.
UCC said that the policy changes put in place at the time were reviewed by external advisers in 2017 and continue to be updated.
“UCC has robust policies and protocols in place to ensure the safety of our students. We are committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment for everyone in our community,” the school said in a statement.
Mr. Dalglish was scheduled to appear at an initial court hearing in Nepal on Wednesday afternoon, but the hearing was delayed for lack of a translator. Mr. Dalglish and his lawyer both declined comment. Court officials refused a request to release documents containing details of the allegations against Mr. Dalglish.
Mr. Dalglish was arrested in a house where two children were present. According to Nepalese police, they have spoken to three alleged victims.
In Ottawa, meanwhile, the Governor-General’s office said it is examining Mr. Dalglish’s status as a member of the Order of Canada, which he received in 2016 for “his efforts to alleviate child poverty worldwide.”
The “Chancellery of Honours is staying informed on the Peter Dalglish matter and will bring it to the attention of the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada, who is responsible for advising and making recommendations to the Governor-General on all matters related to the Order of Canada,” spokeswoman Josephine Laframboise said.
“The Constitution of the Order of Canada provides clear parameters for termination of an individual’s appointment,” she said.
With a report from Arun Budhathoki in Dhulikhel, Nepal