Safe and car­ing poli­cies im­ple­mented on pri­vate schools

The McLeod River Post - - Education Matters - Spe­cial to The Post

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.”

Back­ground

• 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.

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