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Association removes Catholic school board trustee following Nazi, Pride post

A social media post by a Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools division trustee was unbecoming of a director, says Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association
Trustee Monique LaGrange. File photo

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA) has removed Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools division trustee Monique LaGrange as a director following her Facebook post comparing the Pride movement to Nazism.

“Our Catholic schools love all student as gifts from God made in his image, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender expression,” ACSTA president Harry Salm said in a media release. “Separate school boards are committed to providing a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging.

“Trustee LaGrange’s social media post was unbecoming of an ACSTA director. Removing a representative from our board is not a decision we take lightly.

“Given the manner in which the previous director’s post has the potential to undermine the charitable learning environment offered by Alberta’s Catholic school system, we consider this to be the most appropriate response.”

In a post on her personal Facebook account on or around Aug. 31, LaGrange posted two photos, one showing children waving Nazi flags and one showing children waving rainbow Pride flags. The caption accompanying the photos stated: “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”

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

Repeated calls to RDCRS superintendent Kathleen Finnigan seeking comment and further information were not immediately returned.

LaGrange did not return requests for comment.

RDCRS provided a statement to the Albertan last week. 

“The content of the Facebook Story does not align with the principles and values that guide our Division, and Trustee LaGrange does not speak on behalf of the Board,” the statement reads.

“Our Division is committed to fostering learning environments that are inclusive, respectful, and considerate of all members of our schools and community. We deeply regret any distress that the comments may have caused.”

The division’s investigation into the matter is now underway.

“We will conduct a review of our Trustee Code of Conduct and Division Foundational Statements for Board members to reinforce our commitment to respectful and inclusive communication.

“In response to learning about this matter, we immediately engaged our Trustee Code of Conduct. According to the Code, issues can be handled through a conciliatory approach if all parties are agreeable.”

LaGrange has removed the Facebook post at the request of the board, officials said.

In a statement released last Wednesday, Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said: “This matter is currently in front of the board, who has full authority and autonomy to disqualify a sitting trustee.

“The board has indicated that they are seeking advice on the code of conduct, and then will proceed accordingly. 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.”

LaGrange’s post has garnered widespread condemnation, including from the 46,000 member Alberta Teachers' Association.

“In a recent Facebook post, Red Deer Catholic trustee Monique LaGrange drew a direct parallel between the promotion of fascism in Nazi Germany and efforts to recognize sexual and gender diversity and to create safe and welcoming spaces for all students. This is intended to incite hate,” the ATA said.

The association noted that Section 33(1)(d) of the Education Act states that the “board has the responsibility to ensure that each student enrolled in a school operated by the board and each staff member employed by the board is provided a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging.”

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

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