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Red Deer Catholic school trustee won’t face dismissal despite backlash over social media post

The Red Deer, Alta., Catholic school board ruled Tuesday that a trustee who likened LGBTQ pride to Nazi Germany will not be removed from his position, even though he violated the Trustee Code of Conduct and the Education Act.

Monique LaGrange, a Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) trustee, took to Facebook in late August to share a now-deleted meme featuring a picture of children flying Nazi flags over a picture of children flying pride flags.

“Brainwashing is brainwashing,” the post reads.

LaGrange has faced calls from the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) and the Central Alberta Pride Union to apologize for his comments and step down from the board.

Banned from committee meetings

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board found LaGrange in violation of the Trustee Code of Conduct and the Alberta Education Act, but decided he would not be removed as a trustee.

Instead, LaGrange is being censured for attending or participating in committee meetings, including the Alberta School Boards Association and the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association, which has already removed LaGrange as principal.

He also cannot officially represent the board or school department in public or make statements about the LGBTQ community and the Holocaust.

A black and white photo of children waving Nazi flags is shown above a color photo of children waving pride flags.
Monique LaGrange’s now-deleted Instagram post featured a picture of children waving Nazi flags over a picture of children waving pride flags with the caption “brainwashing is brainwashing.” (@monique_lagrange/Instagram)

However, he is allowed to attend regular board meetings and raise “matters related to education” for discussion or debate.

The provisions began Tuesday and will remain in effect until LaGrange’s term expires in the fall of 2025.

LaGrange declined an interview and referred CBC News to his lawyer.

According to the petition, the censure could be lifted if the board’s terms and conditions are met for the board and if LaGrange acts in accordance with board policy and the Trustee Code of Conduct.

LaGrange is required to successfully complete sensitivity training on the Holocaust and LGBTQ discrimination, as well as training that includes professional school trustee boundaries and the appropriate use of social media, cultural sensitivity and human rights.

“The above training is intended to remind the trustee of his role and responsibilities as a school board trustee and to help the trustee make better decisions in any future communications, including social media,” the petition concluded.

LaGrange must also issue a sincere public apology to the students, staff and board members of the school department, which acknowledges the “inappropriateness” of his actions and that he “deeply regrets that his actions offended anyone.”

In an interview with CBC News on Wednesday, board president Murray Holman said the board would file another trustee code of conduct complaint if LaGrange does not follow those provisions.

Murray Holman, Red Deer Catholic Regional School Board President;  She wears a purple dress shirt and black suspenders.
Red Deer Catholic Regional School Board President Murray Holman said LaGrange’s views do not represent the board’s official position. (Submitted by Murray Holman)

When asked if the board was concerned that the public might perceive its decision as endorsing LaGrange’s views, he said it was a concern and that the board was taking action to address the issue collectively.

“That is our role as trustees. to be in the community and really strongly uphold that commitment that we are welcoming, caring, respectful and have a safe learning environment within our department,” Holman said.

Seminars on human rights

The board asked Superintendent Kathleen Finnigan to arrange meetings and educational workshops for trustees with the Simon Wiesenthal Friends Center and the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

The council will also participate in workshops that discuss a “pastoral approach” to supporting students in developing and understanding their sexuality.

“Trustee LaGrange’s social media post is inconsistent with the principles and values ​​that guide our department. Trustee LaGrange’s views do not represent the official position of the board,” Holman said.

“We deeply regret any distress these comments may cause.”

Alberta Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, who previously condemned LaGrange’s post and confirmed to CBC News that the board has “full authority and autonomy” to remove a sitting trustee, said all school boards are required to develop a code of conduct for trustees.

“It is the responsibility of each school board to determine whether a trustee has violated that code of conduct and, if so, to decide how they want to deal with the matter,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

“The council has the powers and independence to manage its affairs and I respect their autonomy.”

ATA appreciates rigor. Pride Society ‘disappointed’

Alberta Teachers Association President Jason Schilling participates in an online interview.  He wears a blue suit and white headphones.
Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said he appreciates the allegations against Monique LaGrange being taken seriously. (Aaron Souza/CBC)

Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling, who previously called LaGrange’s comments “disgusting,” said he respected the board’s process and that the allegations were taken seriously.

“Ideally, I would like to see Trustee LaGrange resign, but I appreciate the severity of some of the consequences the board has placed on this trustee,” he said, adding that the decision to limit LaGrange’s trustee powers “makes sense.” “

Still, Schilling said LaGrange has some learning to do and believes he should be fired if he doesn’t comply with the board’s terms.

“If you’re going to [speak] errors and misinformation about 2SLGBTQ+ students and staff and what is happening in our public schools in this province, then you should not be representing the board,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Pride Society of Central Alberta said in a statement that members are “saddened and disheartened” by the board’s decision.

The public feels that although the requirements of the resolution are “adequate to some extent”, it is not enough.

“We still want him removed, voluntarily or involuntarily,” the statement said, citing the speech and speech 1 million March 4 children The Red Deer rally on September 20 “talks” about his beliefs.

“No amount of training or education will change his beliefs about the LGBTQ2S+ community.”

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