UPDATE #2: The Wildrose Party is calling on Education Minister David Eggen to apologize to families affected by the Trinity Christian closure.
“The actions of the Education Minister and his officials from the very beginning were unacceptable and heavy-handed,” write Shadow Education Minister Leela Aheer and Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Scott Cyr. “He owes all the families impacted an apology. Today’s consent agreement would never have happened without the substantial pressure from Albertans who rightly saw the initial decision to shut down the school as heavy-handed and ideological.”
The two argue a financial administrator is the obvious solution that should have been reached out of court.
UPDATE: Trinity’s lawyer Jay Cameron says he’s pleased with the result of today’s hearing.
“It brings a contentious issue to a successful agreement and resolution and I think that it was in the interest of both parties to do so.”
Wisdom Home Schooling Society will no longer play a role in the education of Trinity Christian students. That’s part of an agreement between the school association and Alberta Education reached in Grande Prairie today. Their accreditation was suddenly revoked in October 2016 over claims of financial mismanagement.
Along with a 13 student school in Cold Lake, Trinity oversees the education of 3,500 home-schooled children across the province. However, in the 2014-2015 school year it was Wisdom that spent almost 90 per cent of their education funding. An audit also revealed that Trinity and Wisdom spent 32 per cent of their expenses on office and administration. The norm for public school boards is between 3.4 and 5.6 per cent.
In addition to the society’s removal, a financial administrator will be appointed for at least a year to help Trinity’s board develop appropriate policies and financial practices. They’ll also oversee their public funding.
“Our priority has been ensuring that the funding we provide for education is being used to support students,” says Minister of Education David Eggen. “We believe that today’s agreement achieves this goal. It also ensures stability for more than 3,500 Alberta students. I stand behind the actions we have taken in this matter and officials will now move to assisting Trinity with developing governance and accounting practices that are at the standard expected by Alberta taxpayers.”
Trinity took the province to court in Grande Prairie in early October and got a temporary injuction to reopen schools until January 5th. It came with the caveat that the province withhold funding in the meantime.