Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of updates over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been working with some parents regarding some concerns within the district. I’ll have another post up soon, but while you wait you can check out the parent watch forum for latest articles of concern to education and parental authority.
I’d also like to remind everyone of the Board meeting on Tuesday at 6:00PM in the Central Office. I have had a quick look at the agenda, and there are no policy changes. Highlights include info on all of the Christmas activities being put on in the district’s schools, and a budget report for 2017/2018.
I hope that given all that has been happening in our province, from the passing of Bill-24, the ridiculous implementation of ‘gender neutral’ bathrooms in SCHS north of Edmonton, and the lack of concern Eggen has shown for the life of a child in Calgary spurs you on to see the importance of attending Board meetings. The family is under attack, and it is coming from our elected officials.
Last Tuesday I had the privilege of attending the first board meeting for MHPSD since the elections. I initially stated that it started at 6pm, and then after checking the agenda, corrected myself, and said it started at 6:15pm. That was apparently actually a mix up on the agenda, as I arrived at 6:15pm and the meeting had already started. I unfortunately missed the Board recognition section of the meeting.
The overall flow of the meeting was pretty standard. The first item discussed was a band field trip to Disney Park. It was approved in principle. It appeared to me to be a well organized proposal, and I think the kids will have a great opportunity, should it receive final approval.
There was then a ‘district milestones update’, and then they got into the meat of the meeting. The policy update recommendations for student fees and special needs education. The student fees policies were updated to align with Bill 1, and it was noted by the Secretary that further updates are likely to follow, as the NDP have indicated that they wish to make further changes to school fees. The details of which are as yet not known. Massini noted that he had some “editorial comments, that he would give to the secretary in private.” (Why would editorial comments need to be in private?)
Forbes also noted that she would like to see the fees policies completely re-written, rather than keep amending them. This makes sense to me, and the Board seems to all agree, but they are going to wait until all the changes from Edmonton have been completed, and use amendments as a stop gap until that time. Forbes elaborated a bit on what she foresaw in changes to the wording of the policies, in regards to the section having to do with special needs.
Forbes stated that “Special Needs Education” should be called “Special Rights Education”, because these children have special rights to education. I did a bit of a Spock face to that comment, as it seemed rather Animal Farmesq. It brought to mind the quote from Animal Farm by George Orwell that says “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Now, I do think that children with special needs, do have special accommodations do to their particular circumstances, but I am unaware of any rights that they have that other students do not. I also do not have 20 years of experience on the board, so perhaps I am missing something. I’m a bit too cynical to draw my own conclusions, as to whether these wording changes would be helpful or not to the special needs policy in MHPSD, so I’ve put a poll at the bottom, so that you can let me know how you feel about it.
After approving the revisions to policy 650, the second in a series of “accountability” reports. These reports are based on the results of survey questions asked of staff, students, and parents, on where the district stands on various metrics. The results for this report are in the attachment documents for the agenda, and are fairly self explanatory, however how sampling was taken, and what questions were asked is not available. This may have been given in September’s report, but I was not at that meeting. I would be really curious as to how sampling was conducted.
There was a brief discussion on nominations for various committees, (those elections have not happened yet,) and then it was into a presentation from Student services. The student services presentation focused on special needs….I mean special rights education. The bulk of the discussion was around Tier 4 students, and what their support looked like. The presenter explained that each special rights student had a B.E.S.T.(Behaviour and Emotional Support Team,) group which consisted of a Support Teacher, Educational Assistant, and a Social Worker, which they now call a ‘Family Enhancement Facilitator.’ I guess there is some kind of stigma with calling them a social worker. I’ll have to ask the ministry of truth about that. Wilson-Fraser inquired further about the Support Teachers, and as far as I understood it, each school has one. Symmonds commented on the importance of a family liaison. I think she too was referring to the social worker. So I’m not sure what they should be called. There was no discussion on the centralization of special needs staff, that I heard so much about from teachers during the campaign.
The meeting finished with Trustee Reports, an enrollment update, (we are up by 22 students this year, there was a prediction of no increase, so that was good,) and a few announcements about future meetings.(NSBA,PSBA, & ASBA) The trustee reports were very brief, as everyone was involved in the election campaign. Massini made a comment about how he had not been to Ross Glen parent council do to a controversy. Not sure of the details on that.
The Board moved to in-camera, and thus concluded my public viewing of the meeting. I hope to get to as many board meetings as I can, but….just so you know, they CAN be interesting, but not always. I’m hoping as part of the future changes to CPoSD76 to get a schedule up, and maybe have someone else fill in on one or two meeetings? (wink, wink)
What do you think of the new suggested language of the policies, do you agree? Vote in the poll, and I can present the results to the Board.
Will rewriting the terms and definitions of inclusive education help to correct the pressing issues of the program?
Total Voters: 14
I’ve taken a few days since the election to rest, and collect my thoughts. Obviously I am disappointed that I was not selected to represent your values and interests to Alberta Education. Although 2435 votes is nothing to shake a stick at, the simple fact is that I didn’t get the necessary votes. Considering the highest voted board member got 5585, I do think that is a significant voice. A 43.6% voice when compared to the the highest vote. More than enough votes to ..cough.. get a petition accepted.
So the question is, “Where do we go from here?” Policy 621 still expects children to obey the school code of conduct at home, and will punish any teacher that will not report alleged violations. Policy 622 still puts children at risk by refusing to tell the children the truth about the health risks of transgenderism, and the obvious fallacies and lies of gender identity politics.
We know that, at least at present, 622 also ignores the law, and willfully and intentionally applies an illegal idea of confidentiality between students and teachers as young as 5. We also know that the newly elected trustees advocated that they were just following a non-existent law, that Minister David Eggen has as yet not even tabled in legislature. We know that newly elected trustees consider parents to be fear mongers, and that according to at least one of the trustees, who stated this publicly to about 200 people, charter and home schooling is the reason public education is falling behind.
Given that a majority of the elected trustees spoke of how they were going to ask the children how they think they should be educated, and that “you[the children] know best what you need.” Given that 99.9% of the people I spoke to during the campaign were not in favour of the direction of public education, and are not secretly trying to undermine public education by homeschooling or sending their kids to private school. Given the tenuous definition expressed during the campaign of what constitutes bullying. It appears to me that parents concerns have not be calmed. If anything, it appears like they have been amplified, and are not likely to be dealt with, unless someone mediates for them. The irony is, that is what the Board is supposed to do.
During the course of the campaign, I heard a number of alarming stories of concerns being ignored. One such story played out at the ATA Forum, with a mother asking how to contact the board, since when she had a question about placing her special needs child, the only response she got was “this isn’t Wallmart.” I can only speculate as to what that response was supposed to mean, or what the whole context was, but what I did learn, was that parents with concerns over 621 and 622, are not the only parents who have been exasperated by the system.
Like I’ve stated many times before, my role has always been about bringing parents concerns to the board, and making sure they are genuinely heard. making sure communication is open, transparent, and honest. That is why I submitted the petition, that is why I took it to court, that is why I set up this website and made it available for anyone to contribute, and that is why I ran for School Board.
Some have disagreed with my methods. Some have even been angry, and lashed out, but here is harsh truth. Facts don’t care about feelings. The fact is, there are some serious problems with district policy and procedures. There are some serious problems with how special needs children are being ‘included’ in classes. There are some serious problems with bullying and the definition and understanding of bullying, and there are some serious problems with the extent of fiduciary duty. These problems are not going to be fixed by attacking the people who bring them up, and they will not be fixed by changing laws so that people can no longer talk or know about them.
What can fix the problems, is openly and fairly talking about them. What can fix them is educating schools and councils on what their roles are. What can fix them is working with parents, and allowing them to be included.
So that brings me to what I plan on doing next. Yes, I do plan on continuing to attend the regular public board meetings, (at least for the near future.) The next one is tomorrow, the 24th of October @6pm by the way. Would be nice to see some others come out. (I’ll post the agenda separately.) Beyond the board meetings and their summaries, I’ll be making some changes to the CPoSD76 site over the next few weeks.
With the help of some of the other concerned parents, we will be moving into a more of an advocacy role. I will follow up with some of the individuals who I spoke with that had concerns, and see if the CPoSD76 can’t work with them to see some kind of resolution to the issues between them and the Board. I will also be putting up forms, where electorate can submit issues/concerns that they feel have note been resolved, or adequately addressed by the district. There may possibly also be guides setup to help parents and school councils understand school policies, and the appropriate channels they need to follow, as well as knowing the limits of school authority and parental responsibility.
The next four years will be about holding the board accountable, helping parents navigate the system, and making sure parents stay up to date with the direction of the district and Alberta Education as a whole.
Thank you to the people who have visited this site 190,000 times since April, and are staying abreast with the truth of what is going in Public education in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, & the world. Thank you to the 2434 people who put their trust in me to oversee public education in Medicine Hat. Your vote for me has given me strength to keep up the race. We are not at the finish line yet.
Concerned Parents will be updating shortly with an election guide. If you would like to see a Parent focused all candidates forum we need YOUR help. Please Contact Us.
Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) has released a survey asking key question of candidates for school board in October 2017’s Municipal Elections. How the candidates answer those questions will provide key information to electorate on where all candidates stand on the education issues that are at the forefront of the coming election.
The CPoSD76 will be doing profiles on all candidates who put their names forward on Sept 18th, and giving an A to F grade on if the CPoSD76 endorse that candidate for the position of Trustee in the Medicine Hat Public School District. In order for a Candidate to have a passing grade, they must at a minimum have completed and returned the PCE survey.
The CPoSD76 are of the position that if any candidate can not fill out the survey, and provide direct and honest answers to the questions most concerning to electorate in Medicine hat, then they will receive an ‘F’ on their profile.
The CPoSD76 would also like to thank PCE for providing electorate all across Alberta with the tools they need to make informed decisions on who they will put in Fiduciary charge of their children.
Our children are the future, and giving them the best possible education and the most prosperous future are the most important goals for parents.
39% In Favor of returning to court.
61% Wish to focus on elections.
I respect the will of the people, and I too believe that the most important thing to focus on right now, is getting people on the school board who respect the authority and rights of parents to be involved with their children’s education. As one parent put it, “the lines of communication are down.” Just like I told the Secretary last September, my role is and always has been to restoring communication with parents. From my attempts to record proceedings, to my speaking up to the board, and to my taking the petition to appeal.
Given that the Secretary and Board had clear instructions to accept a copy of amended signatures from the Justice, and they have chosen not do so, it is evident to me and a majority of voters who signed the petition, that returning to court will not repair the lines of communication. I do understand the reasons why so many voted to go back to court. The Board, through allies in the media, have essentially maligned the electorate on the petition. They have portrayed the signatories as if they could not get the support for their position, and that they were unable to file a correct petition, when that is clearly not the case.
Should any of those signatories who voted in favor of returning to court wish to pick up the banner, and pursue an appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench again, I will provide all necessary documents and evidence needed to do so. I support their right to do so, and I understand why they may want to. I will however point my focus on rebuilding the lines of communication, through the election of candidates that support parental authority, educational choice, and quality curriculum.
(For consistency and ease of understanding in this post I will be using the numbers that the Secretary used when discussing the number of signatures on the petition. There is some disparity between the numbers that I hold to and what the Secretary holds to, but in the grand scheme of things, those small differences would have no affect on the final outcome.)
On August 14, 2017, Secretary Jerry Lebossiere of SD#76 rejected an amendment to the petition I submitted in September, 2016. His excuse for rejecting it was that he could not accept any of the 121 signatures that had had their addresses corrected. In his rejection letter the secretary stated that “These addresses are not set out opposite to an original signature but are simply written in over the photocopied signatures,” and that “as Secretary Treasurer I have no discretion to permit the inclusion of names on a petition that do not comply with the requirements.” Additionally when the Secretary rejected the initial amendment of the petition on July 7th, he set out a an expiry for the petition of July 21, 2017.
When I took the petition to appeal on March 10, 2017, I did so seeking clarification on the act, as well as I contested the rejection of 259 signatures that had listed only a Postal Code, and did not include the street address. Through the proceedings on March 10th, Justice Tilleman made it clear that a copy was sufficient for the amendment. From The Court Transcript: “Okay, so her[secretary’s legal council] last words were the secretary is absolutely willing to evaluate fairly any petition that is re-filed or resubmitted, so, I mean, I take that to mean for example if you used a photocopy of the previous that someone, in an affidavit, certifies is the true copy, and the secretary says no, I’m not going to accept that, you’ll be back in court and I wouldn’t be very happy. It’s going to be accepted.” The Justice earlier in the conversation stating “…then you would need addresses on the 259 so you’re 100 [this is rounded] short, sounds to me like you’ve collected other names, assuming you want to go the (b) route,…” To top it all off, the Secretary’s legal council said, in her own words, “There’s no time limit on the petition names, there’s nothing that says that their name is on the petition for only a set period of time”
Taking the rest of the transcript into context, it is clear to me that the Justice gave the Secretary clear latitude to accept amended address on a copy, and also expected him to accept it, and the district freely told the Justice that we had no deadline/expiry on signatures. I will admit that I did not give a sworn copy of the petition sheets. I did however use the copy that was given to me by his legal council during the appeal proceedings, and red ink was used to indicate clearly which lines had been amended. The secretary did not contest that the pages were not a true copy, he contested that he had no way of knowing if the addressed were true. In affect insinuating that I or others had committed fraud, and made up the addresses. I might add, he provided no proof for his accusation.
In an effort to calm the Secretary’s concerns, on the 21 of August, 2017, I e-mailed the secretary outlining my objection to his rejection of the 121 corrected address. I offered to provide him with sworn affidavits from the individuals who had collected the address information on the 121 addresses. I requested that he inform me by the 23rd of August whether he would accept that, and there by accept the petition. As of the 25 he has not. And so, just like in October of 2016, he refused to provide clarifications in a timely fashion.
That brings me to the point of this post. I am ready to go back to court. I am ready to swear under oath, and before the God of heaven and earth that my statements are true to the best of my knowledge. I stand by the petition, and I stand by the amendment and that it fulfilled all the requirements necessary to be accepted by the Secretary. I am ready to defend that position before a Justice once again. I however will do what the people would prefer. The accusations against me mean nothing, as I and those who know me, know they have no truth to them, so I don’t need to clear my name in court. (Although I would be ok if it were officially cleared. I’m good either way.)
I’m posting to put it to a vote. To you the people. On Monday, if the vote is in favour, I will file at the Court of Queens Bench once again. If I file, a ‘speak to’ date will be set by the Clerk. At which a justice will weigh the merrits of the appeal, and will determine if I have sufficient grounds to appeal. So, by filing on Monday, it does not confirm that it will go to appeal. It may get thrown out. (Looking through the transcript, I find that highly unlikely.) If it isn’t thrown out, I believe we have a very strong case.
Given that the election is mere weeks away, and we might have a different Board after October 16, I want to give everyone the opportunity to state if they think court would be a worth while endeavor. As I’ve done from the beginning, I will do what the people wish for me to do.
Votes will be closed 8pm Sunday August 27th, 2017.
The voting is closed. Results will be posted tomorrow.
On July 21, the CPoSD76 submitted additional information to the Secretary of SD76 at his request. Our previous submission on July 7th was in compliance with the proceedings of the court appeal on March 10th, 2017.
Our submission on July 21st was an attempt to work with the Board to have it meet new requirements set out by the Secretary, that were not in fact discussed during the appeal proceedings.
In regards to the response by the Secretary for our July 21 Submission:
Despite chairman Massini’s assertions that the matter is closed, and that we must “start over,” the CPoSD76 do not hold that same position. During the March 10th appeal Justice Tilleman invited the petitioners to return to his court room, should the district reject the petition a second time. The CPoSD76 are considering all options.
2017 July 21
Concerned Parents of SD76
Re: Amended Petition
We have resubmitted the Amended Petition which now meets the extra conditions requested by SD76.
We have gone the extra mile as requested by the School Board. The Amended Petition submitted June met all the criteria outlined by the judge in our appeal, but the Board requested we reformat a few things to technically fit their interpretation. We have now done that.
They testified in court that 30 names on the original were valid, but subsequently went back to challenge them. Although we don’t believe we were required to do so, we have collected 75 replacement names as an act of good faith.
As directed by the judge, we have submitted additional information to complete the addresses on 118 of the original submissions that only had a postal code. The School Board requested that rather than submit that information as a summary list, that we add it directly to the original lines of the petition, which we have now done.
The amended petition is now complete. The petition meets all the criteria established by the School Act as clarified by the Judge in our prior appeal. We look forward to working with the Board to complete this petition process and to be able to provide them with our concerns on policies 621 and 622.
Since the petition, we have done a lot of work with the Board, and have forged a lot of common understanding, but the Board is in a tough place. The Minister has given them direction on these issues, and they feel bound to follow that direction. As parents however, we disagree with the direction the Minister is heading. The petition, as established by the School Act, is the means to officially voice opposition to what the Board decided. This then allows them to convey that official opposition to the Minister.
We believe that further rejection of a legitimate petition by the Secretary or the Board can only be seen as defiance of the Judges ruling and obstructionist behaviour to avoid listening to Concerned Parents.
Thanks to the threats against me recently, last night the CPoSD76 website crossed over 100,000 hits after only 3 months of operation. Several thousands since the news broke. Based on projections, 100,000 was a feat I wasn’t expecting the site to achieve for another week and a half. Over the last couple of days I and the CPoSD76 have received numerous e-mails and phone calls of support, and asking me to keep up the good fight. In fact, all of them, who had never signed the petition, asked where they could sign. This was a problem, as it became time consuming to write back each person asking.
So thanks to the generosity of local churches, this Sunday is going to be a petition Signing day.
Sunday July 16th
From 11:00 to 11:30 AM at
Victory Lutheran Church 2793 Southview Drive SE, Medicine Hat, AB T1B 2H1
T: 403-527-5617 E: email@example.com
From 11:00am – 12:00pm at
Medicine Hat Christian Reformed Church, 300 Primrose Drive SE, Medicine Hat, AB T1B 3S9
403 529 5650
If you are unable to make the petition signing events, you can contact us, and will be do our best to have a volunteers arrange a meet up to sign the petition.
We got 1500 signatures in a weekend before. Based on the support throughout the community, 138 should be a cake walk.
With 138 signatures, parents will finally be heard by their elected representatives.
On June 20th, the CPoSD76 amended their petition. I received notice that a decision of the sufficiency of the petition had been made on or about 3:30pm Thursday July 6th. It was requested that I come and meet with the superintendent at 8:30AM July 7th. Despite the short notice, I informed the superintendent’s office that I would make the meeting.
I was informed that they had decided that the amendment was insufficient because they had rejected all 111 amended postal code signatures on the grounds that they we not re-signed each in their entirety, even though that was not a requirement discussed during the March 10, 2017 appeal. Even though the Justice said that even a photocopy would have been good enough, as the point of their rejection was that the secretary would have had to have exerted extra effort to ascertain the electoral status of the signature.
In addition to the 111 corrected postal signatures, I submitted 286 new signatures with the amendment. The secretary claims that 3 of those signatures have addresses outside the boundaries, and 1 was missing a character on the postal code. He further claims that 19 of the signatures are duplicates of signatures on the original petition. A claim that is currently being verified. Put simply,
The Secretary claims to have done not the first, or the second, but the THIRD review of the Original petition, AFTER it was stated to the Justice that 1629 signatures on the original were not contested. In his third exemplary review of the original petition he claims to have found 30 duplicated signatures that had previously not been noticed by himself, his staff, or his legal council. 374 – 30 = 344. 344 < 371.
I will not go into details on all of the errors in the two articles at this time, however I will state that neither of the news agencies attempted contact myself or the CPoSD76 prior to publishing their articles. An e-mail from MHN was sent to my personal account at 1:19PM, AFTER they published their article, and stating that they were “looking for a short, written comment to use”, to have it to them “before 4 p.m,” and criteria given by which the CPoSD76 comment must be framed. I did not know of the e-mail until 8pm. Both articles portrayed the numbers of the amendment inaccurately, and in a negative light.
Questions for your consideration:
Why didn’t they want to get a comment before publishing?
Why didn’t they ask the board why they needed to review the petition so many times if they had already done a thorough evaluation in Oct, 2016?
Why didn’t they ask the board why they would lead parents and the Justice to believe that all they needed to do to correct the postal code signatures was get the addresses, if that is not what they wanted/required?
Why didn’t they ask ANY questions of the CPoSD76, but simply want a statement?
Why didn’t they report that board and admin question the legality of Justice Tilleman’s decision to allow an amendment, but choose not to pursue a challenge of it?
A reporter wanting to get the truth, and facts would have asked questions. None were asked.