Safe and caring policies implemented on private schools
Education Minister David Eggen issued the following statement on school authority compliance with An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances.
“I am pleased to report that all public, separate, francophone and charter school authorities have policies that are compliant with the legislation. This means over 98 per cent of kindergarten to Grade 12 students in Alberta are currently protected under compliant policies. Our goal from Day 1 has been to ensure that each and every student has a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging – and we have made great strides toward this goal.
“However, 28 out of 94 accredited, funded private school authorities have still not met requirements under the legislation and I have issued ministerial orders establishing standard policies for these school authorities.
“School authorities must publicly post the ministerial order and standard policy in a prominent location on their websites. These school authorities must comply with the ministerial order, or they will lose their taxpayerfunded, per-student grant for the 2019-20 school year.
“I sincerely hope that we will not need to take this step. But I have been clear: Following this law is not optional. Ensuring vulnerable children feel safe and included at school is not optional. Not in today’s Alberta. And not when you receive as much as 70 per cent of your funding from taxpayers, as private schools in our province do.”
• An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances, formerly Bill 24, was passed in December 2017. It strengthened the School Act to support students who wish to create or join gay-straight and queer-straight alliances (GSAs and QSAs).
• The legislation required school authorities to publicly post their policies in a prominent location on their websites by June 30, 2018.
• All public, separate, francophone and charter school authorities have complied with the legislation, protecting the vast majority of Alberta students.
• Sincethe legislation was passed, Alberta Education sent letters to every school authority in the province advising them of the requirements of the School Act and providing a model policy school authorities could reference in the development of their own policies. On June 28, school authorities were also sent reminders of their legislated requirements, available supports, potential consequences of noncompliance and upcoming deadlines, including notice of provisions of An Act to Support GayStraight Alliances. Over the summer, Alberta Education staff followed up with individual school authorities to check on their progress and assist as needed. In August and early September, school authorities that remained non-compliant were sent two written notices from the ministry with information about where their policies were non-compliant. Alberta Education staff have also spoken directly to a number of the school authorities affected throughout the fall.
However, 28 out of 94 accredited, funded private school authorities have still not met requirements under the legislation and I have issued ministerial orders establishing standard policies for these school authorities.