Black Press File Photo

Black Press File Photo

Lacombe schools in danger of losing funding over GSA compliance

Education Minister David Eggen said 28 out of 94 accredited funded private schools not in compliance

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen recently released a statement saying that 28 out of 94 accredited funded private school authorities are not in compliance with An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances — formerly Bill 24.

Included on that list are Central Alberta Christian High School and the Lacombe Christian School Society, both located in Lacombe.

“I have issued ministerial orders establishing standard policies for these school authorities,” Eggen said. “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 taxpayer-funded, per-student grant for the 2019-20 school year.”

Bill 24 was originally passed in Dec. 2017 and strengthened support for students wishing to join gay-straight alliances (GSA) or queer-straight alliances (QSA) in their schools.

The legislation required school authorities to publicly post their policies in a prominent location on their websites by June 30, 2018. Both schools in Lacombe have both currently not posted a compliant policy and code of conduct on their websites as of Nov. 14th.

Eggen said in a statement he does not hope to remove funding from the 28 schools not in compliance.

“I have been clear: Following this law is not optional,” he said. “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.”

A request for comment from Central Alberta Christian High School was referred to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms who released a statement saying the ministerial order replaces school policies that respect, “The unique religious character and identity of each school, with policies mandated by government.”

The release states that schools are required to work against the, “Constitutionally-protected interests of parents by agreeing to restrict information from parents about their young children’s activities in GSA’s”.

“The Minister’s Order to impose his will without explanation, regardless of child safety and regardless of parental rights that are protected by the Alberta Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, suggest this Order is not properly grounded in law,” Jay Cameron, counsel for the Appellant schools and parents in the Bill 24 challenge, said.

The release states a court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 3rd, 2018

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