Last week I gave a report on a meeting with members of the Board of SD76.
This week, a decision needs to be made on how we should proceed post petition appeal. If option (1.) is chosen, the date of the Meeting would be Saturday, May 27th. The end of the school year is approaching, and this matter needs to be cleared up before the summer break.
Below is a very quick form that would provide us with concrete information on how parents feel we should continue. This is your opportunity. The names and e-mail of those that provide feedback will never be shared publicly. We know first hand the kind of blow back you can get from having an opinion that is not in agreement with the mainstream, and we will do our utmost to protect you from any such blow back.
I have mentioned here before the concern over the Procedures for Policy 621 & 622, in regards to an overreach of authority and fiduciary duty, of Staff and Administration of SD76. I have further mentioned that the procedures allow for the district to monitor what children do outside of school, and punish them for infractions in conduct no matter where the infraction occurs.
I’ve been called a fear monger. That that is simply not true. The policy does not give the Administration that authority. It will never be used that way. The thing is, I have shared examples before about that same kind of Policy/Procedure that HAS been used to control and punish people’s children, outside of school.
But I understand, there is a need to show evidence of that claim, and so I quote from Administrative Procedure “621 P 001 Student Code of Conduct” for Policy 621.
The very serious concern rests in what is meant by “conduct detrimentally” affecting the the school community. With other procedural points specifying that “unethical, immoral,or inappropriate” (4.l) behaviour beyond that of what is illegal is an example of a violation, without explaining who’s standard is to be followed, than anything can be an infraction if anyone says it is. (Procedure point 4 further states that violations are not limited to the examples cited.) It appears to set up the schools as the final authority on what is morally and ethically acceptable.
The intention I’m sure is to prevent bullying, and that is a right and noble intention, but without clarification, well, as they say about a road being paved with good intentions, the outcome will not be what was intended. Given that every family has their own standard of what is morally and ethically correct under the law, this leaves parents under the thumb of the whims of whoever happens to be in charge at the time. It creates strife between children, parents, and schools, with no hopes of resolution.
This kind of wording, inevitably leads to the following:
These kinds of procedures have been applied in other districts in the past, and they have repeatedly led to the ridiculous situations cited above. Schools must be safe, and they must follow the law, but they have no right or authority to dictate behaviour, morality, or ethics outside of school grounds.
Some may argue, “Ya, but they have no intention of doing that,” but that isn’t the point. If no one plans on utilizing that procedure, than why is it there? I am also aware of people who DO plan on utilizing this procedure, and have already received several different interpretations on how and for what purpose it would be implemented. There is already different standards of interpretations on it’s use, and we have not even gotten to a point of enacting it.
It has been an interesting week. A report on the review of SD76 Policy 622 came out at the end of the last SD76 public board meeting. However, prior to that there was a invitation by a Trustee for a meeting with members of our group to discuss common ground and perhaps how we might come back from the brink on this policy. That meeting was set for Tuesday May 2nd.
On April 25th the board released their report, and immediately on the 26th a request for a statement was made by multiple media outlets. I Shared with the 557 members of our Facebook group that report, and requested their thoughts on it. I also met with numerous residents of Medicine Hat in person, to get their feedback. I began to write up a statement on behalf of the group.
On Friday April 28th I received an e-mail from the Lawyer for SD76, requesting I pay costs for the appeal. The stated reason being that, even though costs were not brought up during the appeal proceedings nor were they mentioned in Justice Tilleman’s decision, according to sd76’s lawyer, the Alberta Rules of Court states that SD76, as the ‘winning’ party, was entitled to seeks reimbursement for costs. This seemed to me counter intuitive to a reconciliation process. Thus I delayed the statement, and let the group know it would be delayed.
In the time between the April 28th and May 2nd I asked several signatories about the request for costs, (and consulted a lawyer.) The unanimous consensus from the signatories was that they too saw the request for costs counter intuitive to a reconciliation process. Some were more colorful in their answers than others. Thus, I held off on making any statements until after meeting with members of the board on May 2nd.
The May 2nd meeting saw a majority of the board in attendance. The meeting was not an official meeting of the board, and as such no official decisions were made. There were 2 other CPoSD76 representatives also present.
Overall the meeting seemed to be positive, with a positive outcome. There was some airing of grievances by both parties. A lot of clearing up of misunderstandings and mis-communications. Everyone conducted themselves in a professional and respectful manner, with everyone working towards the goal of coming to a consensus on how to move forward from this issue. Both the board members and the concerned parents understood that neither could make any decisions without first going back to their respective parties with the proposals.
A proposed process by a Trustee was that the concerned parents would arrange a meeting with the signatories/members of the public, and they would invite the board to attend that meeting, and address the issues and concerns that they had. The concerned parents in turn stated that they would be open to that idea, but they would have to bring it back to the other concerned parents, to decide if they wished to follow that process. It was also stated by the concerned parents that for that process to work, a couple of conditions would have to be met.
The board members agreed to bring these requests up for discussion at their next available opportunity.
So, the proposal, to you the concerned parents is this:
We set up a town hall style meeting for the purposes of inviting the Board of SD76 to attend, and decide based on the feedback/participation of the board if/when we should file our amendment to the petition. We let you decide if you wish to move forward with the petition, or if you are satisfied with the feedback from the board, and that your concerns have been heard. Details on the date of the meeting will be forthcoming.
As for a statement on the 622 Review Report. Some of the concerns over it have been mentioned here before, some others have been shared with me since. To summarize those:
Due to the purpose of the meeting, I was not able to raise all of these issues. Over all the Trusstees did agree that communication between parent councils, parents, and the board was in need of a review, and that more readily available information was necessary. There was also mention of how best to engage parents, and the timing of parent council meetings.
I’m just sending a reminder about the province-wide letter campaign regarding the sexually graphic material that was provided to K-12 children on an Alberta government funded and recommended website.
I am hoping to reach a goal of 1000 individual letters before the deadline in a couple weeks and would appreciate your help to reach that goal.
Here are two ways you can help:
1. Write a letter, maximum of one page – watch my video and/or read the petition for ideas of what you can write: https://informedalbertans.wordpress.com/sexually-graphic-material-to-kids-in-alberta-schools-what-you-can-do/
The letters can be short, simple and to the point. If you have already sent a letter, THANK YOU!
2. Send a reminder to others in your networks to remind them to also send in their letters ASAP. Feel free to forward this message.
Tip: Maximize letters and save postage by enclosing letters from each adult in your household within the same envelope.
The deadline is quickly approaching and time is of the essence. I would appreciate your help in getting as many letters as possible. Quantity of letters will be most important.
Thank you so much for investing time today to speak out for the safety of children in K-12 schools!
Last Tuesday April 25th was the monthly public school board meeting. I know many of you have been awaiting a summary of the meeting, and have particular interest in the 622 Review Report. There will be a separate post on that matter on behalf of the group very soon. There have been some developments in the last few days in regards to the Board that warrant the report being addressed separately.
The board meeting opened with a couple of minor addendum to the agenda, which were approved. The minutes of the previous meeting were adopted, and Trustee Terry Riley was in attendance by phone. The chair quickly went over correspondence, and then recognized recent student and staff accomplishments.
After accomplishments, a report on the New York field trip was given. This report included several statements by 4 of the students that were a part of the trip. The students were asked what was the most memorable part of the field trip. They listed the UN, Ellis Island, and the Metropolitan Museum. One student mentioned the UN Universal Declaration of Humans Rights being the most translated document in the world. Just a minor nit pick, but the UN UDHR has been translated into 502 languages. The New Testament of the Bible has been translated into 1442 different languages. I was little surprised no one questioned or corrected that statement. I’m curious by what standard the UN considers a document a document.
I found it further curious that there was so much emphasis on the visit to the UN, and the UDHR, yet the current provincial government does not seem to be concerned with it contents. It is the UDHR, in article 26, paragraph 3 that we find “(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children,” and yet we have seen a concerted effort by the ATA, ASBA, and Alberta Education to violate that right, and remove school choice via shutting down of separate home school boards, and a demand that other options be defunded. Very curious indeed.
After the field trip report, a District focus update was given. This was quite lengthy, and a copy of the presentation was included in the agenda. I will not be going through this here, but suffice to say, it contained a lot of acronyms, and creative use of corporate education speak. The main acronym I was able to get from it was FAIRR – Formative, Alignment, Informing, Reflective, Reporting. The main points I picked up on were
Next they approved a field trip to Chicago, and then reports from committees were given. Massini started with a report on the National School Board conference the He, Davidson, and Wilson-Fraser attended in the U.S. He spoke of the workshops he attended, including:
Davidson also mentioned attending:
The Coordinating committee minutes were adopted.
The public school board committee(?) report was mentioned.
Riley brought up the recent decision by the Saskatchewan court to prevent non-Catholic students from attending a Catholic school. Riley wants the board to discuss the effects it will have on the district. I posted about it here.
Freeman went to the District Learning Exchange, and the Council of Councils as well as the george Davidson council.
Wilson-Fraser went to council meetings, and noted how they are getting ready for year end.
Forbes went to the Learning Exchanges and the Creswood Council. Talked about the 20 or so parents at the meeting, and just how involved the parents of that school are.
Riley went to the Wilson learning center, and brought up 5 things to report
Massini attended the student presentations at Crescent Heights. One of which was on Renewable Energy. He also went to the South View Casino event and the Ken Saur School opening meeting.
The meeting concluded with Freeman giving her 622 Review Report.
This was a marathon meeting, and a lot of ground was covered. The CPoSD76 response to the 622 report will be next.
SD #76 is having their regular public board meeting tomorrow, the 25th at 6pm at Board Office next to Medicine Hat High.
The key items of note are
Policy 210.1 does not seems to have anything of concern. The Board is simply giving the superintendent the power to say when a child may need special education. He must report his decisions to the board. I hope the board brings clarification as to what exactly Mr. Gunderson’s role is. If the superintendent has to report to the board any time he uses the delegated powers, then what evaluation is Mr. Gunderson conducting.
The changes to 510,516, & 545 make it out like the staff person will be put on trial if they do not wish to be transferred. Some more information on just when and why these transfers may be necessary would be of interest. Unless the district is understaffed, I don’t see many situations where this would be necessary. The School Act does outline this, and suggests that it may be of benefit to the personal development of the staff. I think of personal development as a bit of misnomer, as forcing it would probably breed resentment and discontent. Not exactly ‘development’ you would want in a teacher.
As for the report on the 622 review, I am interested in hearing what info was collected, as I’ve said in previous posts, the process was a bit ham handed. All in all it should be an interesting meeting, and I hope I can count on a few other concerned residents showing up to witness the proceedings, and/or discussion on these matters.
I’m going to read between the lines a little bit here, but basically, if you are not Catholic, you MUST send your kids to another school. If this goes all the way through the supreme court, then Catholic schools would be over enrolled, and under funded. This is unequivocally the government telling you that you can not send your child to a school of your choice unless you can prove that you are of the same religion.
This is why there are the whispers of ‘Catholic’ programs in public schools in Alberta. Alberta Education knows that there are many parents who choose to send their kids to Catholic or other independent schools, even though they are not Catholic. Alberta Ed is moving to shut down other school options as quickly as they can, but they can’t just outright shut them down, like they tried with WISDOM, so they are going to ‘entice’ parents to ‘choose’ the public system. If you cut the funding to other options, and offer ‘similar’ programs in the public schools, parents will ‘choose’ a single system.
It is the old gun to your head “your money or your life” type of choice. The average parent can not afford to send their kids to a school without subsidies, nor can they prove to be Catholic. Home schooling is simply impossible for most families, so what do you think parents will ‘choose’?
Last week, I shared a Breibart Article about a school device program. The title was a little odd for the content, but it was suggested that kids were being spied upon by the software on the devices. Accurate or not, that is not the main reason I shared it. The main point was that neither staff nor teachers seemed to know anything about the software on the devices. This is most concerning because what is the point of the program, if no one even knows what is in it.
Further, SD76 is bringing in a similar program, and they intend bring it in to younger classes. This was openly discussed by the board at their monthly meetings. The program in and off itself seems harmless, but there are some background items that need clarified before I and other parents concerns with it will be alleviated.
Early this week, the message to include parents was brought to the Alberta Legislature. Thousands in Medicine Hat had been shut out by our elected Trustees. The local Media, and NDP activists took to deliberately twisting that message to suggest that parents wanted the ability to ‘out’ their children. That is not the case. Parents have been silenced by municipal, and provincial government, and anyone that stands up is smeared and harassed, or even threatened. No large media would even talk about what is going on in Medicine Hat, so we were left with little options.
There is a lot of history to why parents believe their School Board isn’t listening, and even actively suppressing parental involvement. So I’ve listed here a brief timeline. The appeal on March 13th was a culmination of all the actions that were taken by the Board. At any time they could have turned around and given open opportunity for genuine conversation, and parents would have accepted it. They unfortunately chose not to. The Board has not been working for the people, but for the provincial government. As public servants, they represent the will of the parents to the education ministry, not the will of the education ministry to the parents. They are bound to follow the law, but beyond the law, their actions are meant to be the will of the electorate. The democratic majority.
Shortly after the decision was rendered last Thursday April 13th, 2017, Board chair Rick Massini shared the following comments in a chat news article:
“Massini says the board has been diligent with involving parents in the drafting of the policies, noting the policy has been discussed at the school council level, and a school council representative sits on the SD76 board.
“Parents in effect have direct access to policy development through their representative from the council of school councils,” he said.
The board also had three public meetings and a town hall in regards to the LGBTQ policy, says Massini.
Massini says SD76 is currently in the process of updating its LGBTQ policies, which it does each year. Massini adds the board is responsible for representing all students.”
Now these statements are effectually true, but they are not the whole truth. The 3 public meetings Massini spoke of were board meetings. All of which the public was not allowed to speak, save for the delegations that were given 5 minutes instead of the 15 granted in policy. The delegates were also not allowed to ask questions of the board, only answer if a question is asked of them. These meetings were ‘open’ to the public, as is the law, but the public was not open to engage the board. The only reason the public was even able to speak on March 29th, 2016, was because those that came refused to just sit by while the Board passed a policy that put their children at risk, and over extended the authority of the Board and Administration.
The whole truth about the so called “Town Hall,” is that it was in fact NOT a town hall. District Superintendent Mark Davidson, fresh to his new position, and during my first time meeting him, stated, “This is not a Town Hall.” But don’t take my definition of a Town Hall, here is the definition of a Town Hall courtesy of Merriam-Webster (emphasis mine)
“: an event at which a public official or political candidate addresses an audience by answering questions posed by individual members Town halls have lost some of their spontaneity. The 80 or so undecided voters chosen for Tuesday’s event must submit their questions in advance and moderator Candy Crowley of CNN will decide which people to call on. — Connie Cass”
The public meeting in May, which was sprung on residents of Medicine Hat with little notice, (less than what is outlined in the School Act,) did not allow for any answers to questions, and did not allow for direct communication between Trustees and the Public. It told the public what questions were being asked, and how to answer them. Not a single person who went to that meeting honestly called it a Town Hall. Not even Mark Davidson.
But this is how the current culture in government and education system works. They take a word, or phrase that has a common understanding, and make up a new meaning for it. They conveniently don’t tell the person that is hearing or reading it, that the meaning they think it has, does not in fact have the meaning intended. This is deception without a lie. It is the perverse manipulation of language to fool someone into accepting what was said.
We saw this with how the NDP government twisted the message of ‘include parents.’ The media and the NDP government took those words, applied their own made up meanings and understanding, and said that the message was “out the gays.” This is intentional deception, and unbecoming of those in authority. Whether journalist, trustee, or deputy premier, and might I say, a violation of oaths.
But let us get back to Massini’s comments. There is just one more truth I would like to point out. The ‘review’ of 622. There are a couple little tid bits that were left out. 1. As part of this years review, the Board wants to take out the yearly review on the policy, and 2. the only change they are making is that they will “without coercion, encourage children to speak to parents.” Also of note, is that at no time during this process did the Board ask parents what they thought should be changed. Not one of the parent councils that I heard from even conveyed that that was an option.
On the parent council’s being part of the process. I think you should know, that by the Trustees own admission some of the parent councils were not even going to bring it up with parents that the policy was open for review. One trustee engaged in ‘informing’ a parent council that ‘their is nothing to be concerned with’ in the policy, and to just pass it. One parent council didn’t even know that procedures existed for the policy, and were implemented in August of 2016. This is not even considering the fact that most, if not all parent councils have employees of the district sitting on them, and they ARE NOT ALLOWED to disagree with the board or they may have their employment terminated.
A public meeting, with a committee being formed, in a formal process under the School Act, is the ONLY way parents in Medicine Hat have any hope of being openly and honestly heard and to hold the Board accountable to that feedback.
Ask yourself this. Why does the board not want to let parents speak to them, why do they not want to ANSWER parents on the record, and why do they want to suppress discussion of and remove the yearly review of the first controversial policy in the districts history.