The second prong of the CPoSD76 C.P.O.S. plan that I will be going over in this post is the “Create” prong. It seems fitting to go over it the day before Board of SD76 has their Monthly board meeting. I get to give you a pre-Board meeting run down, but also show how this portion of the C.P.O.S plan fits in with policy development.
The purpose of the “Create” prong of the C.P.O.S. plan is to:
Develop and create policy for SD76, Alberta Education, and provincial government that we believe would satisfy the requirements of current legislation, that also addresses our concerns, and present it as an alternative.
The goal is not to rewrite every policy, but to provide the School Board with what we, the parents, would like to see implemented in the areas that they are concerned about. As we all saw with policy 621 & 622 the Board was unwilling to trust the public to select a committee to put together policy recommendations on their own. Instead, according to the Chairman of the Board, they chose to allegedly blow $25,000 to prevent parents from being heard. The Coordinating Committee knew best.
That is why the first action of the “Create” prong will be to develop the Safe & Caring policy that ‘could have been.’ (Minus the provisions of the illegal post 622, Bill-24.) The exact process of the creation of this policy recommendation will be posted on the “Create” page most likely early May. The process will suffice to say include an opportunity for general public input, and the selection of a committee to compile that input into a cohesive policy recommendation.
Other than the rejection of public input by the Board for 621 & 622, this prong of C.P.O.S. and the resulting policy recommendation is necessary because the current process in SD76 is flawed. It is an overly bureaucratic top down system, that limits dissension and independent thought. Select administration, who many in the process chain are beholden to, (who have already proven have no qualms with lording that threat of authority over them,) must play politic in order to keep their careers on track, and are not free to give honest policy recommendation based on their own personal conscience believes. This intimidation and suppression of freedom of conscience has infested the ATA, ASBA, and Alberta Education.
I could regale you with all the proof of the cracks in the system, and the lengths they are willing to go to suppress parental input, but I won’t. You can read through the history to find that. No, instead I’ll just leave this screen shot of an ATA official, on Friday the 20th, 2018, attempting to discredit the #SexEdSitOut. As well as a break down of this month’s Board Meeting agenda and how it’s format has changed over the last few months to limit your knowledge of what is going on in this district. If you are not interested in that, you can stop reading now. I will not be writing anything further on the C.P.O.S. plan in this post.
On the Agenda for April 2018’s public (remember that word, public,) Board meeting is some thank you correspondence, Roy Wilson National Winners for the “My Parks Pass” contest, another field trip application, Connaught School attendance boundaries, the final approval for a field trip to Florida, and the presentation of the minutes to the Coordinating Committee (CC), before moving to in-camera “Committee of the Whole.”
The CC minutes contain a brief list of all policies being reviewed, and any new, or amendment recommendations to the board. The CC meetings are not open to the public, and how a parent is supposed to get a change recommendation actually brought forward at one of these meetings is unknown even to most parent councils. (Your concern, or recommendation needs to be approved as ‘valid’ by your parent/school council, and then approved as ‘valid’ at the council of councils. Attendance at which is by invitation.)
Now after the minutes of the CC are seen by the Board, they are given draft proposals of the policy change. In the past, they could be viewed by the public, as attachments to the meeting’s documents. Curiously, I don’t see those this time. No mind, I’m sure they will be available at the May Board meeting, as the drafts have to be presented before they can be voted on. So if parents hope to know what may very well become policy, before it actually becomes policy, you best attend the May meeting.
But this process with the CC isn’t the only curious thing happening with the Board in the last 2 years. In 2016, some events that showed an embarrassing lack of knowledge of FOIP and what exactly ‘public’ meant at a meeting, had the board institute a no recording policy. The policy was instituted under the ridiculous pretense that they couldn’t “execute their duties,” unless those people recording were friendly and favorable to the board.
The no recording policy also lead to more ‘discussions’ going on during in-camera, “committee of the whole,” portions of the ‘public’ meetings. These discussions, though I’m not privy to them, seem to include a lot of talk that has not to do with the public meeting, or if it does, then the Board is violating the School Act. Well, either way, they are still violating a technical detail of the Act. Something, from the petition challenge, they supposedly care a great deal about not doing.
The Board, for as long as I’ve followed/attended the meetings, has been giving reports on how the Trustees have been involved in the activities of the districts. These reports have been on the minutes and the agendas of the meetings for the last couple of years. February 2018’s public meeting had it on the agenda. The minutes state that no reports were given. Curiously, the minutes don’t talk about a motion to discontinue this practice. March’s meeting did not have the reports on the agenda. So I am to assume that they stopped giving them. Now here is the funny thing, the Board can’t simply change it’s practice without discussing it, nor can they do so without informing the public. It’s written right in the School Act.
Now, that practice may have been only for a designated time frame, but that isn’t noted in the minutes. No discussion or decision about whether it should be continued or ceased is recorded. The reports were simply not given in February, and then no longer there in March. So what happened? I can surmise two possible explanations.
One, it was discussed, but it wasn’t recorded in the minutes. If so, that is a failing of the minutes taking. Since the board must vote on the adoption of the previous meeting’s minutes, that means they knew about the error, and chose to keep it out anyway. Thus showing the board willfully violated the School Act and intends to keep decisions on district governance and agenda secret from the public. What else are they not putting in the minutes?
Two, it was discussed in the in-camera session, after the specified period in the agenda, and a decision was made to stop giving the reports. Yet, they did not inform the public, or at least record that they informed the public. Thus violating the School Act once again, and willfully keeping pertinent information from the public.
You see, the School Act very carefully outlines what in-camera discussions are meant to be used for. The in-camera sessions, according to the School Act, which is the actual law, states that they are to be used to discuss confidential matter such as budget decisions, land use, discipline, and employment negotiations. They are given some latitude with respect to other ‘confidential’ matters. Given the track record on understanding FOIP, I’m not entirely confident they believe the word confidential means what we believe it means.
Regardless of how the Board defines confidential, the School Act further stipulates that ANY decision of the board, made in-camera, must be released to the public, and that at any public meeting that has gone in-camera must be reopened to the public, and the decision disseminated. Not a single meeting that I have gone to, has done this. Not one. Yes, they re-opened the meeting to the public, but they never told the public it was reconvened, nor what their decision was. You only ever had vague reference to it in the minutes. I waited for nearly an hour at more than one meeting to see if they would open it up to the public again. Never happened.
According to the March minutes, the public meeting was 25 minutes long before going in-camera, and then 93 minutes later it was allegedly opened up to the public and a decision of approval was made on “Property Matter #2018-04.” What Property Matter #2018-04 is, I have no idea, but no reasonable member of the public could be expected to wait outside the room for 93 minutes, hoping to be let back in to witness the conclusion, nor what an approval of the property matter even means for the district. Given the established pattern, of not letting the public know the meeting was re-opened, I’m doubtful they even attempted.
We are only 6 months into the new school board, and between the lack of recording, the limits on documents provided regarding the CC, the generic and incomplete minutes, the unreasonable wait times, and unreasonable expectations of confidentiality, I’m not hopeful that this board is going to be anymore accountable or transparent to the public than the last. I highly recommend people attend tomorrow’s April 24th Board Meeting. Something smells, and I intend on getting to the bottom of it.
I did. When speaking to James Wood from CHAT News on September 29th, 2017.
“[Eggen] seems to be on an agenda to exclude parents from knowing what their kids are doing at school,” said Williamson.
“That’s a violation of the U.N Charter of Human Rights. Parents have a prior right to choose the education for their children. Canada is a signatory on that charter, so to go back, independently as Alberta, and say parents no longer have a prior right to know, I think it will probably get challenged. He might pass laws, but it wouldn’t be very long before they got challenged in court.”
Link to full copy of Bill-24