Board Update: September 24, 2019

Yesterday your Edmonton Public School Board of Trustees met for the second time this school year.  It was a meeting that was longer and more emotional than most, with a total of 12 registered speakers from the public and some thoughtful debate.  I’ll offer a summary below, but our full meeting package and minutes are available online.

Remarks from the Board Chair:

Board Chair Estabrooks reminded the board of the history of Orange Shirt day, a day marking the impact of residential schools on September 30th.

Report on Community Involvement in Schools:

The board received a report on Family Engagement. Trustees asked questions about the new format of SchoolZone, School Council activities, and the Inclusive Education Parent and Community Advisory Committee, which received 91 applications for 5 spots.  I hope to hear more about the work of this committee and the First Nations, Metis and Inuit External Advisory Council.

Motion on involuntary confinement:

At our last meeting, I tabled a motion on the use of involuntary confinement in schools. The board heard from 11 speakers on this issue, including an eight-year old student of Edmonton Public Schools, and it was important for us to hear the experiences of parents and students who have been impacted by this practice.  The board ultimately passed a motion to advocate to the province for standards which clearly specify that these rooms only be used in emergency situations, and to work towards a system where these rooms are not needed or used. Trustee Ip amended a further motion to implement a timeline for preventing and phasing out this practice in Edmonton Public Schools which was tabled for further discussion.

Motion on climate strikes:

Trustees passed a motion by Trustee Janz to suggest schools in the District neither encourage or penalize students to attend the September 27th Day of Climate Action, with parent consent.  The board heard from one speaker on this motion, who is a student of EPSB and spoke to the need for adults to tackle the issue of climate change.

More to come:

Some reports were carried over to our next meeting, October 8th, as the discussion ran well into the evening.

On a personal note, it was wonderful and encouraging to see so many registered speakers at our board meeting.  Public education is a cornerstone of democracy, and it is important that a public school board hears from students, parents and community when making decisions.

Our board meetings are always up on YouTube: