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Red Deer Catholic school trustee violated sanctions with interviews, board says

Trustee Monique LaGrange resigned from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board after being disqualified
Former Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools trustee Monique LaGrange. File photo

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) board has released the reasons for its Nov. 14 decision to disqualify trustee Monique LaGrange from holding her elected position.

In a press release issued Friday, the board said LaGrange made a social media post and gave interviews that violated sanctions imposed by the board in September after she made a social media post that compared Nazism to the Pride movement.

Following a special board meeting held Nov. 13 and 14, the board voted to disqualify LaGrange due to what they said was her violation of sanctions placed on her on September 26, 2023 as well as further violations of Board Policy and the Education Act. 

The 10,400 student school division includes schools in Innisfail and Olds.

In August, LaGrange made a post of two photos on her personal Facebook account, one an historic photo showing children waving Nazi flags and one a contemporary photo showing children waving rainbow Pride flags. The caption accompanying the photos stated: “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”

Following in-camera board meetings on Sept. 25 and 26, the board sanctioned LaGrange for violating the division’s Code of Conduct and the Education Act.

Those sanctions included LaGrange not being permitted to represent the board or 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.”

In the release issued Friday, the board cited incidents it says led to LaGrange’s disqualification.

“On September 28, 2023, the respondent (LaGrange) posted two items on her personal Facebook page: the first depicting a wolf wearing facial make-up and licking its lips, with the caption, 'I just want to read some books to your chickens’; and a photograph of a non-binary author with the caption, ‘Parental rights really anger me non- binary children books author pushes back against parents’.”

The board also said LaGrange gave media interviews after the imposition of the sanctions, which included that she not speak to news/media outlets.

During one interview, LaGrange “identified herself as a Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools trustee and she spoke about the posting of the original meme (social media post) that resulted in the first code of conduct complaint,” the board said.

In a second interview LaGrange also discussed the sanctions, the board said.

In its release issued Friday, the board said, Lagrange was “identified, introduced or described as a school board trustee in the interviews. The topics of discussion were in both of the interviews related to educational issues within the scope of a trustee’s job responsibilities, and/or the first motion which was the result of a process applicable only to school board trustees. 

“The board is of the view that a reasonable person, reading or hearing comments or social media postings of a school board trustee introduced and/or self-described as such, would not anticipate that such comments were offered solely in the trustee’s personal capacity absent, at minimum, a specific declaration to that effect from the trustee.”

RDCRS board chair Murray Hollman said the decision to disqualify the first-term trustee was “not made lightly”. 

“As a board we are committed to our mission of continuing to foster and maintain welcoming, safe, caring, and respectful learning environments for all students, staff and families,” he said.

The complete 17-page release issued Friday is available for viewing on the RDCRS website.

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