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.
It has been 2 weeks since the CPoSD76 submitted their amendment to the Petition. Considering that an amendment to a petition had not been done before, upon giving the amendment package to the Secretary, I requested a timeline on it’s evaluation. Witnessed by the Chairman of the Board, and other concerned parents, I inquired whether we could expect the timeline outlined in the School Act. Both the Secretary and the Chairman stated that we could.
Section 269 of the School Act States – “269(1) When a board of a district situated wholly or partly within the boundaries of a city receives a petition calling for a public meeting that is signed
(a) by 25% of the parents, who are also electors, of the students in a school, or
(b) by the lesser of
(i) 2000 electors, and
(ii) 25% of the electors,
the board shall within 21 days from the date that it receives the
petition (in this case, the amendment) publish notice of the public meeting to be held under this
section in accordance with section 270.”
At this point, we have only to wait. Since the Legal Council for the District informed the Justice during the appeal that the district was not contesting any other aspect of the petition, other than what was addressed in the amendment, we need have only to wait for the evaluation. With only 400 signatures to evaluate, I expect we should hear from the Secretary soon.
A post will be made as soon as a response from the District has been received. Thank you for your patience.
I have tabulated the vote results.
68.2% in Favour of Amending
13.6% in Favour of Compiling Concerns
18.2% Spoiled Votes
Due to an unknown circumstance the voting got locked out late Thursday evening, and I was unaware of the problem until 9pm Friday. This led to a number of corrupt votes. However, even if all the votes that had been corrupt had been in favour of Compiling Concerns, the “Amend” Votes would still be the lead. The e-mail addresses of those votes DID come through, so I will attempt to ascertain how they voted, for clarity of record. If there was anyone else who attempted to vote, but got an error message, please ‘contact us.’
With the information as it stands now, I will be submitting the amended petition to the Secretary of the Board ASAP. Details on that will be posted later.
On a separate note, the final public school board meeting for the 2016/2017 year will be held at 6pm tomorrow the 20th of June at the central board office. I’ve gone over the agenda, and there are no policy changes on the agenda. Highlights include ASBA Zone 6 meeting overview, PSBA General Assembly Overview, and a discussion on the “Classroom Improvement Fund” (CIF)
[Update: Please, everyone that is able, vote. The higher the number of votes I get, the better reading I have on what the public will is, and the more credibility there is in the option chosen moving forward. I intend on closing the vote on Friday the 16, and if option 1 is in the clear majority, I will formally amend the petition ASAP.]
Last week the Concerned Parents of SD76 presented an open letter to the Board of SD76, asking how they would like to proceed. The Board was presented in the letter with 2 options. Amend the petition and have it proceed as outlined in the school act, or work together to set up a public meeting that would be satisfactory to both sides. Given that parents want an opportunity to have bidirectional dialogue with the Board, and to put the concerns of parents to rest.
On Sunday June 11, 2017, the Chairman, Rick Massini, gave a response to one of the CPoSD76. He stated that he had spoken with the board, and that they had decided to just have us submit a written summary of our concerns, and that they would accept it for information at their next Board Meeting. (Presumably the June 20th meeting.) The Board would then give a written response to those concerns.
He further stated that there was to much on the agenda for the next meeting, and too many things going on into the summer to make time for the options presented in the open letter. It was clarified to Mr. Massini by the CPoSD76, that if parents went with the amendment of the petition, the school act requires that they make the time. It was also stated that the school act timeline would be more aggressive than if a mutually satisfactory meeting were worked out with parents.
Compiling and submitting parent concerns by Friday the 16 is an impossible timeline, (Friday is when all documents for the June 20th board meeting will be available on the sd76.ab.ca website,) so that means if parents wish to submit them, they would not be responded too until after the September Board meeting. Which would be the last board meeting before the Municipal Trustee Elections. It would also mean that trustees would not be a part of that process, like it would be as outlined in the School Act.
As I am only one of the CPoSD76, and up to this point I have not acted on my own, but with the input of and endorsement of other concerned parents, I am presenting parents with one last vote on this matter.
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.
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.