Nanaimo-area private school fires principal over allegations of ‘inappropriate online activity’

Nanaimo-area private school fires principal over allegations of 'inappropriate online activity'
Aspengrove School in Lantzville is shown in a June 2015 Google Street View image.

A private school near Nanaimo has fired its principal after it says it became aware of allegations of “inappropriate online activity” involving the man and a person claiming to be a minor.

Aspengrove School, a private K-12 school in Lantzville, has also notified RCMP after it says it was made aware Friday of posts circulating online allegedly involving head of school Mark Pierotti.

It comes after a video posted to the local vigilante Facebook group “South Island Predator Publishing” purported to show a meeting between Justin Bruce, who reveals himself as the person pretending to be the 15-year-old boy, and an adult man. The man in the video is then seen speeding away from the scene.

The authenticity of the video published on Facebook and the identity of the man seen in it have not been confirmed.

After the video was posted Thursday night, the school announced Pierotti’s termination the next day.

Aspengrove board chair Iain McIver issued a statement through the school’s lawyer Tuesday, telling CHEK News the school’s priority is the safety and well-being of students and staff.

“Any form of violence, sexual abuse, intended or actual online exploitation and/or harassment will not be tolerated and goes directly against our safety policies and code of conduct,” McIver said.

The statement says the school immediately notified police and terminated Pierotti, then informed parents in the community through a letter that is now circulating online. In the meantime, former head of school Jo-Anne Kingstone has stepped in to serve as interim principal.

Aspengrove says it is not aware of any additional allegations of inappropriate activity involving Pierotti from students or staff.

The school says it is in the process of retaining a third-party expert to conduct an independent investigation of Pierotti’s alleged conduct while working at Aspengrove.

Mental health supports such as psychological care and counselling will also be made available to students and staff when the school year begins, the school said.

CHEK News reached out to Nanaimo RCMP to confirm whether it is investigating the incident, but the detachment said it would not confirm any details unless charges are laid, and none have.

None of the allegations against Pierotti have been tested or proven in court.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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