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Censuring Catholic trustee shows division is 'safe and caring': board chair

Monique LaGrange keeps position on Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board of trustees
Trustee Monique LaGrange. File photo

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) board’s decision to censure a trustee who made a social media post comparing the Pride movement to Nazism will hopefully serve to reassure the public that the division is “safe and caring” for everyone, says chairman Murray Hollman.

“It’s important to note that the content in Trustee LaGrange’s social media post does not align with the principles and values of our division,” Hollman told the Albertan. “Trustee LaGrange’s views do not represent the official stance of our board. 

“Our division remains steadfast in its commitment to creating inclusive, respectful and considerate learning environments for all members of schools. We really do regret any distress that these comments may have caused.”

“It’s very important that our communities understand that our schools are safe and caring.”

The 10,600-student RDCRS division includes schools in Innisfail and Olds.

In late August, trustee Monique LaGrange posted on her personal Facebook account two photographs, one an historical photograph of a group of children holding Nazi flags with swastikas and one a contemporary photograph of children holding a rainbow Pride flags. The post (also called a meme) also included a caption stating “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”

The posting has been widely condemned, including by the Alberta Teachers' Association, the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association, and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

LaGrange has not responded to Albertan requests for comment.

The Sept. 27 RDCRS board motion states that LaGrange is “censured from being part of all and any part of board committees and is censured from attending  and participating in all board committees, including any part thereof.”

She shall also not represent the board/school division in any official capacity, including board/school division functions, events, award ceremonies, conferences, assemblies, school masses, graduation events, school council meetings and speaking with news/media outlets.

The motion also requires a “sincere public letter of apology to school division students, staff, and the board in relation to the meme” and the apology must “recognize the inappropriateness of the trustee’s actions and that the trustee is deeply sorry for having offended anyone through her actions.”

As well, she must enrol in, at her own expense, and successfully complete “suitable sensitivity training about the Holocaust” and “suitable sensitivity training relative to the challenges and discrimination faced by members of the 2SLGBTO+ community” and “suitable sensitivity training covering professional school trustee boundaries and appropriate use of social medial, cultural sensitivity and human rights.”

LaGrange can still attend Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board of trustee meetings, and may bring forward any educational related issue for discussion and debate to the board through the board’s standard procedures and practices.

It was not known at press time whether LaGrange will follow the conditions outlined in the motion. 

Asked if LaGrange has given an indication whether she will abide by the conditions outlined in the motion, Hollman said, “We are not sure. That is her choice. She knows where the board is and she has the motion. She can decide what she wants to do. The terms have been laid out.”

The Sept. 27 motion calls on the RDCRS superintendent to arrange a meeting with the Alberta Human Rights Commission to confirm an education workshop for the board, and to meet with the Director of Education of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre to confirm the date of an education workshop by the centre for the board.

As well, the board instructed Finnigan to confirm a workshop for the board on “pastoral approach to support students in the development and understanding of their sexuality.”

Chairman Hollman says he welcomes the opportunity to attend the workshops.

“I think education is always important and the more we learn the better people we can be,” he said.

The Pride movement promotes and protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and others.

Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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