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Red Deer Public values LGBTQ+ students, staff and families

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The Board of Trustees of Red Deer Public Schools reaffirms its unequivocal support and commitment to LGBTQ+ students, staff and families.

Last month the Board voted against having a Division-wide Pride Week and voted in favour of having a Diversity Week understanding we are “Open to All”, recognizing our Division must be respectful and supportive of each diverse group and individual. The decision arrived at by the Board on Diversity Week is now in the hands of the Superintendent of Schools to move forward on implementation, working closely with our schools and the community to make this valued and meaningful.

Since then, the Board has received and appreciated many and a wide range of comments and opinions on the decisions. The decisions have also been part of discussions at School Council and City Wide School Council meetings.

During the Board’s meeting March 10, Trustees and Senior Administration heard four presentations from individuals requesting to share perspectives. As provided within policy, the Board chose to hear those presentations during its private meeting.

Following those presentations and discussion among Trustees, the Board reaffirmed its commitment to have a Diversity Week. The Board will not reconsider its decision on Pride Week.

Following their deliberations, all Trustees support the following motion to review the Board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy, which has already received strong endorsement from champions of the LGBTQ+ community:

● The Board of Trustees directs the Superintendent of Schools to undertake a review of Board Policy 19 – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and report to the Board.

Throughout all deliberations on these motions, Trustees, both individually and collectively showed genuine care, understanding and full support for LGBTQ+ students, staff and community. The Board of Trustees fully expects that our schools are safe and respected places for all students and staff. We recognize the true challenges faced by the LBGTQ+ community and that Red Deer Public must continue to prioritize this work.

Included within the current SOGI Policy is the provision for schools to have events and activities to support members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community. This already includes the ability for schools to host Pride weeks and events. Some schools, in response to this opportunity, are undertaking plans to do so this year.

The Board’s intention in approving the review of an already strong policy is to ensure the policy is highly responsive to the challenges and opportunities of the LGBTQ+ community within school communities.

Alberta

Post-secondary schools must report on free speech efforts on campus, minister says

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Edmonton – The Alberta government says it will require post-secondary institutions to report annually on their efforts to protect free speech on campus.

A news release from the Department of Advanced Education does not detail exactly what must be included in these reports, or say what the consequences would be if the requirements are not met.

Minister Demetrios Nicolaides signalled changes were coming earlier this week after the University of Lethbridge reversed its decision to host a speech by a former Mount Royal University professor whose comments on residential schools have drawn fierce criticism.

Frances Widdowson was fired from Mount Royal in late 2021 after she spoke of the educational benefits of residential schools while questioning whether abuses at the institutions amounted to cultural genocide.

Widdowson’s campus speech this week was to centre on concerns that a mob mentality and “woke policies” increasingly threaten academic freedom.

The Alberta government says the latest move builds on its earlier work in 2019, when it required all 26 publicly funded post-secondary institutions in Alberta to either endorse the Chicago Principles on free expression, or develop a policy consistent with them.

“It is abundantly clear that more needs to be done to ensure our institutions are adequately protecting free speech,” Nicolaides said in a written statement Friday.

Alberta’s post-secondary institutions should be bastions of free speech and academic freedom that promote critical thinking. I will continue to explore greater steps we can take to strengthen free speech on campus.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.

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Education

Annual Education Results released by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

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From Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

Board Meeting Highlights

Annual Education Results Report:

The Associate Superintendent of Curriculum presented the 2021-2022 Annual Education Results Report to the Board of Trustees. RDCRS recognizes that the strong results from the 2021/2022 school year are a result of our staff’s significant efforts. Our students’ school day begins with the friendly greeting of a bus
driver and continues late into the evening with our staff coaching practices and games, directing a play or musical, or leading youth ministry events. It is this collective teamwork for all our students that makes RDCRS an extraordinary place, and RDCRS has seen this in the feedback from our staff, students, and
parents. RDCRS would like to sincerely thank everyone for their tireless efforts on behalf of our students and their families.

The Board of Trustees approved the Annual Education Results Report for the 2021-2022 school year, as presented. To view the Annual Education Results Report, please click here.

Middle School Program Change Proposal:

The Associate Superintendent of Inclusive Learning presented the Program Change Proposal: Moving Foundations and Blended Programs from St. Francis of Assisi Middle School to St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School Report to the Board of Trustees. The proposal outlined a relocation of the Foundations and Blended programs from St. Francis of Assisi Middle School to St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School.

The purpose of the relocation is to maximize programming space which will result in optimal learning opportunities for RDCRS students. Another key factor in the relocation is the current high student enrollment at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School as a result of our grandfathering guidelines.

The Board of Trustees approved moving forward with the relocation of the Foundations and Blended Programming at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School to St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School, effective for the 2023-2024 school year.

Preparation to Open St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School Report:

The Superintendent shared with the Board of Trustees the Preparation to Open St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School Report and provided an update of the progress to date. As RDCRS continues to prepare for the Division’s new middle school, the Superintendent informed the Board of Trustees that a core team of
educators, transportation department representatives and senior leadership personnel have been assembled to start preparations for St. Lorenzo Ruiz. This team will be undergoing extensive work over the next six months as communication with RDCRS stakeholders is pivotal. The core team met on January 18 and will continue to meet regularly for ongoing discussion, collaboration and preparation.

The Superintendent also highlighted transportation and grandfathering guidelines that are currently in effect for the Division. To view the full Preparation to Open St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School Report, please click here.

The next Board Meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 5:30 p.m.

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