Alberta’s Education minister has no authority to dismiss a school trustee who made an Instagram post likening children holding a pride flag to young Nazi supporters — but her school board does, states a response from the provincial government.
Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides has been drawn into a divisive discussion among members of the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board as to how to deal with Trustee Monique LaGrange’s widely condemned social media post last week.
Many people have been asking for her resignation or censure. So far, the local Catholic school board has just asked for the post to be taken down.
Further discussions held at a special board meeting on Tuesday were not yet revealed to the public — except it was confirmed that former chair Anne Marie Watson stepped down from her role as board spokesperson over a resolution that was voted on.
According to a Red Deer Catholic school district statement, a board motion was made to send a letter to the education minister, asking him to consider dismissing LaGrange.
In response, Nicolaides sent his statement to the Advocate on Thursday indicating he has no authority to dismiss elected school trustees “only the board has the ability to do so.”
The Education Minister said he spoke to Watson, the former board chair, about this matter earlier this week. “The board… has full authority and autonomy to disqualify a sitting trustee,” said the minister, who referred to Section 87(1) and 87(1)c of the Education Act.
“The board has indicated that they are seeking advice on the code of conduct, and then will proceed accordingly,” Nicolaides added in the statement. “The board has assured me that they will handle this in a quick and effective manner. It is important to note that under the Education Act, I do not have the authority to remove or dismiss a single trustee, and only the board has the ability to do so.”
The minister provided a portion of the Education Act that states: “A person is disqualified from remaining as a trustee of a board if that person…has breached the code of conduct of the board… where the sanction for the breach under the code of conduct may be determined by the board to be disqualification.” This puts the onus on the school board to act on such matters.
In a statement, the Catholic school board said: “The Board is taking this matter very seriously. As such, we are looking at all the tools we can use to remedy the situation including inquiring with the Ministry of Education. We will be sending our letter to the Minister this afternoon and will await their response. In the meantime, we will continue to look at our other options.”
Earlier this week, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and former Education Minister Adriana LaGrange (a distant relation of Monique’s), were among those who condemned the post in which a photo of kids holding Pride flags was shown alongside a historic photo of young Nazi supporters with the caption “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”
LaGrange has not apologized for her post or responded to the Advocate’s requests for comment.