June 7, 2017 Rick Massini Board Chair Medicine Hat School District 76 601 1 Ave. S.W. Medicine Hat, AB T1A 4Y7
An open letter to the Board of Trustees of Medicine Hat School District #76
Dear Rick Massini,
For the past 15 months the Concerned Parents of SD76 have indicated to the Board our concerns over the wording and procedures for SD76’s policy 621 and 622. In February 2016, when more than 20 people showed up for the February Board meeting, Trustees made note of the unusually large crowd. In the months that followed, that crowd size only increased, and that gave significant indication to the Board that those parents had growing concerns, that were not resolved.
In March 2016, through the presentations of four different delegations, parents made clear the broad nature of their concerns. Parents continued to share yet more concerns with the board after the March 2016 Special meeting to pass 621 & 622. Throughout that meeting no one engaged in bullying or harassment. Parents simply had questions and concerns that they did not feel had been answered in the policies. Parents were then promised a Town Hall, where by they could express those concerns, and ask their questions.
Both parents and electorate were deeply disappointed when it was revealed to them in May of 2016 that they would not have a Town Hall, but instead a meeting restricted to small group discussions with other parents. Discussions where no questions could be asked of the Trustees, and no answers would be provided. Parents were in fact given the questions that they were to answer.
Parents and electorate, then feeling snubbed and condescended to, understood that they had no other recourse but to utilize Section 269 of the School act, to submit a petition calling for a public meeting. Section 269 of the Alberta School Act had never been utilized before in SD76, and had rarely been drawn on in other districts of Alberta. A section specifically designed to allow parents and electorate to force a Board to be held to account by the public, when they feel they have no other recourse.
Parents didn’t just want to drop cards into a suggestion box. They wanted to have answers to clear inconsistencies with the policies and the recommended guidelines coming from Alberta Education. When the Secretary rejected the petition in September 2016 and refused to give clarifications, stating that he was not going to “spend any more time on this,” it was clear that the matter had to go to the courts; in order to get a fair hearing.
The only way for the signatories to get the clarification that they were refused, was to appeal as was their right under the School Act. By following the process under the law, parents and electorate were able to obtain 4 key clarifications, that otherwise would have been unobtainable: the Secretary was forced to provide the clarifications he had previously refused to give; the matter of the signatures that only had postal codes was firmly resolved, with the Justice stating that the parents had a “reasonable interpretation” to expect them to be accepted, despite ultimately being told they needed to be completed/corrected; precedence was established to state that if a petition seeks to be evaluated for the “25% of the parents in a school” clause, then school information needs to be given by the signatories; most importantly the districts lawyer informed the Justice that our petition could be amended to correct deficiencies and that there was no time limit, with the Justice even referencing those statements in paragraph 18 of his ruling. Justice Tilleman also made it clear during the appeal that the petition was the property of the submitter, and that it should be returned to them upon request.
In the weeks following Justice Tilleman’s decision, parents in SD76 have diligently set about to correct the deficiencies outlined by the Justice. In doing so, 300 new signatures have been obtained thus far, and a substantial number of the ‘postal code’ signatures have been corrected. There is an expectation that an amended petition would meet the requirements under the School Act; to call a public meeting as outlined on the petition. Parents and electorate of SD76 are at a junction, and we are offering to let the Board choose the path taken.
Since the Board decided to pursue a Bill of Costs from Mr. Williamson, the Parents decided that they would not seek to have the board attend a Concerned Parents of SD76 group meeting. The Parents do not believe that a concern by the chair of the Board over “setting a precedent” was sufficient justification to pursue costs. The now 2300+ tax paying electorate who have signed the petition do not think it was a waste of their tax dollars to call a public meeting, nor do they feel it was a waste of their time to force the clarifications via appeal that had been refused by the Secretary. The entire process could have been avoided had the Board simply been willing to have official interactive dialogue with concerned parents.
At this point, considering the position that SD76 has taken, there are only two possible paths forward: Amend the petition and have the process proceed under the School Act, with all the formal procedures that accompany that; or, work with the Board to see an agreeable formal interactive meeting between concerned parents and the Board.
The Parents understand that the Board have some concerns with security and conduct at such a meeting. Parents do not wish to see such a meeting hijacked by activists, lobby groups, or media frenzy any more than the Board does. The Parents are willing to work out a format with the board that would see both parties concerns mitigated, as long as such a meeting would see both the policy concerns of the parents and the responses of the Board to those concerns recorded into the public record.
We respectfully request that the Board provide an answer as to how they would like to proceed by June 12th, 2017.
The Concerned Parents of Medicine Hat School District #76
Back in March of 2016, two of the four delegations referenced a report from the ACPed that called the ‘trans’ movement abuse of children. Trustee Forbes asked, “Have you looked into what Canadian Pediatricians are saying.” I responded with admittedly a weak answer, that “Canadian politics are very different.”
I was surprised by the question, because it implied that ethnicity or country of origin had some sort of affect on the science. That unless ‘your people’ agreed, than there is no truth to the facts. What I was saying in my very confusing reply was that Canadian politics (and now law and policy) is influencing what pediatricians can and can not state. As you can see from the article below, politics in “Psychology Today” is trying to suppress the truth, even in the US. So I guess I should have said, country of origin makes no difference on the facts.
Yes, it is a thing. You can add it to the list I posted here[link fixed]. I will not put you through the suffering I had to endure while reading this supposed ‘peer reviewed’ paper. Suffice to say the author refers to the tumbler.com community of self-identified trans-species users as a serious source for their argument. Referring to the online community’s idea of ‘identity’ as transcending “human understandings of gender.” A couple of times referring to the “(magical) power of the hippo self.” Heavily relying on the “His Dark Materials” book series for insight. A series described by author Philip Pullman as being “about killing god.” I would even call the paper a hoax, if it were not for the fact that the author has as yet, not done so.
So what does this have to do with the educational, social, and physical concerns that parents of SD76 have? For one, it shows just how far the bar has fallen with regards to academic standards. Is one really supposed to take seriously the opining of a trans-hippo that relies on tumbler and a fictional novel for support? Where is the scientific analysis, and the observable, repeatable, and testable outcomes?
Secondly, most of the hysteria that came about in the spring of 2016 was as the result of a Study from the University of British Columbia, that itself fails in academic standards. A study conducted by a lobby group that openly admits that they are “a team of researchers dedicated to finding evidence-based strategies that will reduce stigma and improve resilience among vulnerable youth populations.” Dedicated to finding evidence to support their hypothesis, rather than testing it’s validity.
The aforementioned UBC study had 923 participants, (more than twice that signed our petition,) out of 35,939,927+ (~population of Canada at the time). 75% (~692) of which were 18 or older. 8% of which were not transgender(~74). The numbers alone would give any credible academic pause as to the significance of the results.
I’m not saying that the perceived results for that 1 study are wrong. I am suggesting that further evaluation and study needs to be conducted before one rewrites the very fabric of society, and overhauls the entire education system. Enshrining one study as the holy grail of data for tolerance and acceptance. All because 923 survey participants ‘may’ have ‘felt’ bullied. Let’s get a bit more actual science involved so that when this train derails, a whole generation of kids don’t get hurt.
Where does this all lead? Well, we have seen it leads to insane ‘papers’ that prop ‘identity’ as transcending human understanding, the magical wisdom of a hippo lady-man, (that is not an insult, that is how they identify.) It has given us policy 621 which expands authority of the district to dictate and monitor what children do outside school. It has given us a procedure for 622 that makes it an offense for teachers to suggest that maybe what the child identifies as is not right. (See here) It has given us a rejection of biology and science. It has stripped away the protection of our daughters (and our sons) from predators by taking away the protections based upon thousands of years of known human biology and behaviour. Simply so that 923 people out of 35 million can maybe not be made fun of for believing a delusion. (Only 2% of which are even still in school.) Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking 2017 was the year ‘xerkind’ evolved beyond human understanding into something godlike. Knowing gender as something existential.
During this years Alberta School Board Trustee elections, encourage grounded, rational, logical candidates to step forward. If you are not going to run, find out where the candidates stand on parental authority, school authority, social studies, and political ideologies. If you believe that political, religious, or social beliefs have no affect on how School Boards govern education, than you need to start paying attention. The sexology pushed into k-12 in the last two years is not because of a sudden realization of error in how kids have been educated. It is a push by every level of government to sexualize children, and expand dictatorial control to the exclusion of parents in EVERY way.
Unless sanity, logic, and reason are restored in our schools ,(and their governance,) you could soon find this song having entirely different connotations.
One of the concerns that parents in SD76 have is that Policy 622 does not establish just what constitutes a “Frivolous and Vexatious” case. The guidelines to best practices as put forward and endorsed by education Minister David Eggen is that a child can self identify as whatever gender they feel at whatever time. Even changing from day to day.
One of the topics that was discussed at length during the informal meeting in March of 2016 was what was the process that would be implemented to identify a frivolous case, and how a true case would be managed. Parents were ASSURED that a process would be worked out and that the details on that process would come out when procedures were written.
To this day, no “gate keeping” procedure or process has been written. (Or at least been publicly made available.) In fact 3 procedures have been written that actively inhibit a gate keeping process.
Procedures (j) and (k) are contradictory and dangerously so. Evidenced based (j) support will show that there are those (such as Carey Callahan) who have regretted becoming trans and de-transed, but that would be a violation of (k).
Procedure (l) puts children at risk because it does not allow for professionals to evaluate if the child is suffering from some other condition, (gate keep.) If a teacher can not divulge the information concerning a student’s health and mental state, than it could progress further and lead to increased risk of self harm. Procedure (l) is also a violation of the Family Law Act as stated here.
The situation as it stands now leaves parents out of the loop, and allows individuals without professional medical or psychological training, to make life altering determinations for minors, that if misdiagnosed could lead to serious harm. The concerns parents have with 621 and 622 are not over with.
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.
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:
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.
(6)Except where otherwise limited by law, including a parenting order, each guardian may exercise the following powers:
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 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.
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.
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:
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:
A quick recap of the board meeting. I am writing a more thorough walk through, but due to constraints on my time, I was unable to complete it tonight, so here is the tl;dr.
As for the your vote on how the CPoSD76 should proceed.
Given that costs were not rescinded, even more votes from 1 would be shifted to 2.
A meeting for signatories and stake holders in the petition will be held on the 27 of May. Venue TBA.
Tonight at 6pm is the monthly SD76 public board meeting.
There are a few major items on the agenda for the meeting.
The Agenda, and all relevant documents can be found here.
A final note: Results of the vote on how to proceed will be available Wednesday.
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.
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.
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.