A Catholic school board in Red Deer, Alta., ruled Tuesday that an administrator who compared LGBTQ pride to Nazi Germany will not be removed from his position, even though he violated its Administrator Code of Conduct and the Education Law.
Monique LaGrange, an administrator at Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools (RDCRS), took to Facebook in late August to share a now-deleted meme that featured an image of children waving Nazi flags on top of an image of children waving Pride flags.
“Brainwashing is brainwashing,” the post said.
LaGrange has been facing calls from the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and the Central Alberta Pride Society to apologize for his comments and resign from the board.
Banned from committee meetings
At a meeting Tuesday, the board concluded that LaGrange violated the Trustees Code of Conduct and the Alberta Education Act, but ruled that she would not be removed as a trustee.
Instead, LaGrange is censured from attending or participating in committee meetings, including those held by the Alberta School Boards Association and the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association, which has already removed LaGrange from her role as director. .
He also cannot officially represent the board or school division in public or make statements about the LGBTQ community and the Holocaust.
However, he is still permitted to attend regular board meetings and raise “education-related issues” for discussion or debate.
The provisions began Tuesday and will remain in effect until the end of LaGrange’s term in the fall of 2025.
LaGrange declined an interview and directed Breaking: to his lawyer.
According to the motion, the censure could be removed if the board’s terms and conditions are met to the board’s satisfaction and if LaGrange acts in accordance with board policy and the Trustee Code of Conduct.
LaGrange is required to successfully complete Holocaust and LGBTQ discrimination awareness training, as well as training covering the boundaries of professional school administrators and appropriate use of social media, cultural sensitivity, and human rights.
“The above training is intended to remind the trustee of her role and responsibilities as a school board trustee and to help her make better decisions in any future communications, including social media,” the motion concluded.
LaGrange must also issue a sincere public apology to the students, staff and board of the school division that recognizes the “inappropriateness” of her actions and that she is “deeply sorry for having offended anyone with her actions.”
In an interview with Breaking: on Wednesday, board president Murray Hollman said the board would launch another complaint about the trustees’ code of conduct if LaGrange fails to comply with the provisions outlined.
When asked if the board is concerned that the public may perceive its decision to coincide with LaGrange’s views, he said that was a concern and that the board is taking steps to collectively resolve the matter.
“That’s our role as trustees: to be out in the community and really strongly support the commitment that we are welcoming, caring, respectful and have safe learning environments within our division,” Hollman said.
Workshops on human rights
The board has asked Superintendent Kathleen Finnigan to host educational meetings and workshops for trustees with the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
The board will also take part in workshops that seek to take a “pastoral approach” to supporting students in developing and understanding their sexuality.
“Administrator LaGrange’s social media post does not align with the principles and values that guide our division. Administrator LaGrange’s views do not represent the official position of the board,” Hollman said.
“We deeply regret any distress these comments may have caused.”
Alberta Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, who previously condemned LaGrange’s post and confirmed to Breaking: that the board had “full authority and autonomy” to disqualify a sitting administrator, said all school boards must develop a code of conduct for administrators.
“It is the responsibility of each school board to determine whether an administrator has violated that code of conduct and, if so, to decide how they want to address the matter,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
“The board has the authority and independence to manage its own affairs and I respect its autonomy.”
ATA appreciates severity; Pride society is ‘disheartened’
Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling, who previously called LaGrange’s comments “disgusting,” said he respects the board’s process and that the allegations were taken seriously.
“Ideally, I would have liked to see Trustee LaGrange resign, but I appreciate the severity of some of the consequences the board has imposed on this trustee,” he said, adding that the ruling to limit the abilities of Trustee LaGrange “makes sense.” . “
Still, Schilling said LaGrange has something to learn and believes she should be fired if she doesn’t comply with the board’s rulings.
“If you go to [speak] falsehoods and misinformation about 2SLGBTQ+ students and staff and what is happening in our public schools in this province, then I should not represent the board,” he said.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Central Alberta Pride Society said members are “saddened and disheartened” by the board’s decision.
The company considers that although the resolution requests are “somewhat adequate”, they are not sufficient.
“We still want her removed, whether voluntarily or involuntarily,” the statement read, saying an appearance and speech during a 1 million March 4 children’s rally in Red Deer on Sept. 20 “speaks volumes.” of their beliefs.
“No level of courses or training will change your beliefs towards the LGBTQ2S+ community.”