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Red Deer Catholic School trustee judicial review wraps

Lawyer for board argues its sanctions were reasonable
Monique LaGrange (Advocate file photo)

Whether the Red Deer Regional Catholic School board was right to sanction and then oust a trustee is now in the hands of a judge.

The second of two judicial reviews into board sanctions and then later disqualification of former trustee Monique LaGrange wrapped up in Red Deer Court of King's Bench on Wednesday.

Justice Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay said she will reserve her decision but did not provide any timeline.

Lawyers for the school board and LaGrange returned to familiar themes on Wednesday.

School board lawyer Teresa Haykowsky argued the school board was within its rights and responded reasonably when it first sanctioned, then disqualified LaGrange in a 3-1 vote last Nov. 14. Nearly two weeks later, the board released a 10-page list of reasons behind its decision.

LaGrange's lawyer James Kitchen contends the board failed to "meaningfully grapple" with LaGrange's response to the multiple Code of Conduct breaches she was accused of in two code complaints.

LaGrange first found herself in hot water in late August 2023 when she posted a meme on social media, featuring an archival photo of children waving flags with swastikas on them and a modern photo of children waving pride flags with the caption, “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”

On Sept. 26, the board passed a motion to censure LaGrange from being part of all and any board committees and she was prohibited from representing the board in any official capacity or speaking to the media.

Two days later, LaGrange posted a meme on her Facebook page of a wolf wearing facial makeup and licking its lips with the caption, “I just want to read some books to your children.”

A second posting the same day was of a Rebel News article with a photo of a non-binary author with the caption: “‘Parental rights really anger me’: Non-binary children books author pushed back against parents.” 

LaGrange appeared on an episode of Laura-Lynn Talks, released on Oct. 2 but some time after the sanctions were imposed. Then on Oct. 19, LaGrange appeared on Truth Talk, where she defended the initial meme.

A second complaint was made, alleging her social media posts and commentary from her interviews contravened the board’s Code of Conduct and Alberta’s Education Act, and further breached the board’s first motion.

The first judicial review hearing on the original sanctions was held for three days in May. The review of the disqualification began Tuesday.

Haykowsky said on Wednesday that the defence has not met the burden of showing that the board's decisions were unreasonable or unintelligible.

The reasons for the board's decision and the processes it used to get there "reflection rationality. There are no fatal flaws in the decision maker's – the school board's – overall logic."

Kitchen argued that the board failed to listen to LaGrange's explanations nor did it adequately explain specifically how her actions were judged as breaches of policy.

"The board seems to have its own secret dictionary on how it interprets what is written down (in policy).

"They have to give an explanation. They have to give an analysis. They failed to do so."

Kitchen is seeking LaGrange's unconditional reinstatement to the board. Her defence is being funded by The Democracy Fund, which describes itself as a charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education and relieving property.


Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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