Court Costs, 622, and where we are going...

Court Costs, 622, and where we are going…

Well, it has been a long road. I’ve been to 14 board meetings now. Last night’s meeting was no different. Each one being pretty much the same. Crowd sizes varying. Feb, 2016 – 20+, March Regular – 40+, March Special – 90+, April 0 – as no one knew where to go, May Public 120+. Obviously parents had and have concerns over Policies 621 and 622. So how DID the board respond? Well, I’ve posted here a short list of why the parents of SD76 were not satisfied with the process, and why I was forced to go to court on behalf of the parents. Yet, as was the case in several other board meetings, the parents got a ‘lecturing’ by a Trustee about how ‘open’ and attentive they were to parental concerns, without actually addressing a single concern that was brought up, or issue with the process. And there were issues. I wrote about them here.

So, where did that leave us? Well, we were told by Trustee Riley last Tuesday that we were wasting the administrations time by continuing to press the issue, when it is “done”. Mr. Riley even going so far as to say that they would not be looking at this issue again unless legislation is changed. Stating that the parents were operating out of fear of change. Even quoting F.D.R.’s famous statement on fear.

“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I guess what parents are supposed to take away from that is, being afraid for the safety of children, is irrational. I guess we all should just accept that our child’s well being is up to the board. Just ignore the fact that gender politics have been banned in parts of Australia (NSW) because of the proven risk it poses to the well being of children. Just ignore the fact that predators have already used gender politics to victimize children. Just ignore the fact the GSA’s are being used to promote high-risk homosexual life style, and teaching such wonderful things as “Anal Phisting”, and “Golden Showers.” Just ignore that the district have set no standards as to age appropriateness. (So you know, 4 of the 5 trustees have told me that there are 6 & 7 year old children in the district who are trans. As if a 7 year old’s mind is even developed enough to understand the concept.)

It is reckless and irresponsible to refuse to look at a policy unless and only if a change in legislation is made. (Not to mention that is a direct contradiction of the amendment that was just past to 622. Which stated that any further amendments to the policy shall be in accordance with the existing procedures on policy amendment.) It is clear that the board does not have an accurate understanding of the legislation, and as such, the policies need to be adjusted. Mr. Riley stated that children have a right to privacy when sharing information with teachers. Citing Bill 10, the Alberta Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Charter of rights as his bases for this believe. In fact the word privacy does not exist in any of the sources cited. In fact, Bill 10 states the following:

Alberta Bill 10 Notice to parent
58.1
(1) A board shall provide notice to a parent of a student where courses, programs of study or instructional materials, or instruction or exercises, include subject-matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion or human sexuality.
(2) Where a teacher or other person providing instruction,teaching a course or program of study or using the instructional materials referred to in subsection (1) receives a written request signed by a parent of a student that the student be excluded from the instruction, course or program of study or use of
instructional materials, the teacher or other person shall, in accordance with the request of the parent, permit the student, without academic penalty,
(a) to leave the classroom orplace where the instruction,course or program of study is taking place or the instructional materials are being used for the duration ofthe part of the instruction, course or program of study, or the use of the instructional materials, that includes the subject-matter referred to in subsection (1), or (b) to remain in the classroom or place without taking part in the instruction, course or program of study or using the instructional materials.
Alberta Bill of Rights States:
Recognition and declaration of rights and freedoms
1 It is hereby recognized and declared that in Alberta there exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or gender expression, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms,
namely:
  • (a) the right of the individual to liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;
  • (b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law;
  • (c) freedom of religion;
  • (d) freedom of speech;
  • (e) freedom of assembly and association;
  • (f) freedom of the press;
  • (g) the right of parents to make informed decisions respecting the education of their children.

I could find no reference in the Canadian charter that refers to student child confidentiality or privacy. Perhaps Mr. Riley was referring to the Privacy Act, but that act is in reference to the retention of private data by government bodies.

Alberta Family Law Act:

(6)Except where otherwise limited by law, including a parenting order, each guardian may exercise the following powers:

  1. (a) to make day-to-day decisions affecting the child, including having the day-to-day care and control of the child and supervising the child’s daily activities;
  2. (b) to decide the child’s place of residence and to change the child’s place of residence;
  3. (c) to make decisions about the child’s education, including the nature, extent and place of education and any participation in extracurricular school activities;
  4. (d) to make decisions regarding the child’s cultural, linguistic,religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage;
  5. (e) to decide with whom the child is to live and with whom the child is to associate;
  6. (f) to decide whether the child should work and, if so, the nature and extent of the work, for whom the work is to be done and related matters;
  7. (g) to consent to medical, dental and other health-related treatment for the child;
  8. (h) to grant or refuse consent where consent of a parent or guardian is required by law in any application, approval, action, proceeding or other matter;
  9. (i) to receive and respond to any notice that a parent or guardian is entitled or required by law to receive;
  10. (j) subject to the Minors’ Property Act and the Public Trustee Act, to commence, defend, compromise or settle any legal proceedings relating to the child and to compromise or settle any proceedings taken against the child;
  11. (k) to appoint a person to act on behalf of the guardian in an emergency situation or where the guardian is temporarily absent because of illness or any other reason;
  12. (l) to receive from third par ties health, education or other information that may significantly affect the child;
  13. (m) to exercise any other powers reasonably necessary to carry out the responsibilities of guardianship.

Mr. Riley quite correctly states that the Trustees swore an Oath to follow the lawful commands of the Education Minister. However, Minister David Eggen’s command to keep secret from parents information to which they are legally entitled is an UNLAWFUL command, and by their oath, they should refuse to follow it.

“I believe fear is leading this issue, but it is not an irrational fear of change. No, it is a culture of fear…”

I believe fear is leading this issue, but it is not an irrational fear of change. No, it is a culture of fear perpetuated by Alberta Education (ATA,PSBA,ASBA, etc…), the NDP government, and their front groups like “Progress Alberta” and “iSMSS.” Driven by the aggressive behaviour of the LGBT… groups that threaten, harass, and bully.

This culture of fear is even embedded deep within SD76. From notices passed around by the ATA, to taking teachers aside and reprimanding them for being witness to a petition. This is a culture of cover up, silence, and oppression. I’ve never even gone into the questionable ‘hearings’ policies. That is a whole other mess entirely. There is a reason our little website has had over 53,000 visits in a month. Those parents, staff, and electorate who have been abused and maligned by the system know they can come to me, and others on this site, and share their stories without being exposed to the attacks and social media witch hunt that would surely follow.

Now, I have been accused of being aggressive as well, but there is a difference. The things I have said are true. They are predominately first hand quotes, and are experiences I have personally been privy to. Yes, not everything I have said is flattering to those individuals, but those who are directing the education of our children must be held accountable for their words and actions. They are the examples to our children, and they exert great influence over them.

As I have stated in the past, I am no stranger to bullying. I have been on the receiving end of a ‘hazing,’ and been mocked for the hobbies I enjoy. I can identify the difference between criticism and bullying. Many of the things I’ve said or accusations I have made were submitted in my affidavit during the appeal, and I swore before God that they were true, under penalty of law. The appeal process even gave the district’s lawyer the chance to cross examine (question my statements), and they did not do so.

“…and I swore before God that they were true, under penalty of law.”

That brings us to the petition. Why DID I feel compelled to appeal this particular petition, the first case of it’s kind in Canadian history? If you believe the ill-researched articles in the media, it was because we wanted to waste everyone’s time, and we are on the hunt to ‘out’ all the LGBT…. If you believe the board, it was because we were afraid of change, and would not accept that the issue was ‘done’ before it had ever even begun.

So, why not ask the man that appealed to the court? Why not ASK him why he felt obligated to appeal? Surely the man who filed the petition, and it’s appeal could tell you why he appealed. Surely the source would be the best place to get the information as to motivations? Well, I have stated here before why I felt obligated to appeal, (via the main contentions argued in court) but I suppose a reiteration of those reasons is necessary.

  1. The 25% condition of section 269(1)(a) of the School Act was not evaluated for the petition.

  2. That 259 signatures that only had postal codes were not considered valid.

  3. That when asked for details on the 110 rejected out of district signatures, the Secretary refused to provide them.

  4. A possible privacy violation of a witness to the petition.

There were in fact two more reasons that the petition was appealed, but more time was spent in the filings, that addressed those two issues, than was spent during arguments in the appeal. The two additional reasons were:

  1.  The actions of the board before the petition was submitted appeared to show prejudice against a fair evaluation of the petition.

  2. The Secretary had informed Dr. Prince and I that we could not have the petition back and implied that no amendment to the petition could be made. Thus 100s of hours of work would have to be repeated in order to re-submit.

As the individual who submitted the petition, it was my responsibility to make sure a fair and just evaluation was conducted. If you subtracted the 110 signatures that they said were out of district, that left 1924 tax payers in the lurch. After a petition is rejected, the School Act specifies that an appeal to the Court of Queens Bench is the only option left available. Although some would have you believe that it was a fruitless endeavor, Paragraph 18 of the Justice Tilleman’s judgment proves otherwise. In it, he recounts how the district stated that we could in fact amend our petition for re-evaluation. This was, as I’ve said, contrary to what they had said before the appeal.

Finally, what about the cost? Well, there were several opportunities before the petition to have genuine, bidirectional dialogue between parents and the board, but parents only met with resistance. At one point, parents were even told that it was up to the courts to figure this all out. But when parents went to court, they were being “Frivolous and Vexatious.” The fact of the matter is, the justice had 3 opportunities to declare our case frivolous. During the speak to date, where the merits of our appeal were evaluated, during the proceeding of the appeal, and during the rendering of the judgement. The districts lawyer ALSO had opportunity to argue to the justice that we were being vexatious. In neither the appeal proceedings, or the rendering of the judgement, were costs brought up.

[UPDATE: There is apparently no way to get the clarification I was seeking. A response of agreement to the costs as levied by SD76 has been sent to their lawyer.]

As was stated in the Medicine Hat News, we will be paying the $2300 bill as was received. I am in the process of attempting to get clarification from Justice Tilleman as to whether it was his intent in his judgement for us to pay costs. I am currently awaiting a call back from resolution services. The Board has given me a deadline of May 26th to respond to their request. This gives me a few days to get that clarification. I want to make it very clear, I am not paying this bill because I believe I was in the wrong in taking it to court. If I had to, I would do it all over again. It is silly to suggest that ‘not pursuing costs’ would set precedence forcing the district to forgive costs on any other potential case. Each case is unique, and the decision could be made at that time.

On the matter of ‘wasted money,’ I want to leave you with a few facts:

  • During the previous 2 years, SD76 paid $46,600 a year in membership fees to the unelected Alberta School Board Association (ASBA).
  • Beyond that, the ASBA charges ~$250 per hour for legal services.
  • Trustee Riley gave a report last Tuesday on the ASBA Zone 6 meeting, in which he stated that the ASBA was planning on increasing those membership fees, and increasing the legal services fees to ~$350 per hour.
  • What exactly does membership fees buy, if they don’t include legal services? A pool of potential candidates for positions? Is that worth the cost?
  • The Trustees had a 13.7% increase in ‘benefits’ on the 2017/18 budget. That means a $16,000 increase. From $10,500 to $26,500. Non-union staff only saw a 3% increase and that was spread across wages & benefits.
  • The NDP are FORCING a reduction in school fees, while expecting the districts to maintain the same level of services.

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