November 3, 2016
Many positive developments in Alberta
It has now been 10 days since the Ministry of Education in Alberta shut down Trinity Christian School and WISDOM Homeschooling without warning. For those parents who received the phone call telling them the news of the closure and instructing parents to re-notify within two weeks, these days have been long and have held many questions. Since then, HSLDA has been cooperating and working closely with AHEA and others in order to get those answers to you.
The short answer today is similar to last week’s email: our encouragement to families in Alberta is to wait and to hold steady for at least one more week. To find out why, continue reading the long answer on the HSLDA blog.
There are many positive developments that we’d like to share with you. Keep in mind that conversations are ongoing, and decisions are not yet final, but HSLDA and AHEA are feeling optimistic about the opportunities and meetings over this past week.
For example, HSLDA, in close cooperation with AHEA, has been in discussion with WISDOM/Trinity, AB Education, several private school boards, and many parents in order to develop the best strategy to protect homeschooling freedoms and to support homeschooling families.
AHEA has met with the Minister of Education who appreciated the stress and inconvenience that this decision has caused affected families, and who indicated his eagerness to work towards a solution that would be agreeable to families. In that spirit of cooperation, the stated two-week deadline to re-notify has been lifted. This is what gives us the confidence to suggest that you wait before taking too many action steps regarding notification.
We have also been in contact with several private school boards in Alberta, and they are sympathetic to the plight of the affected homeschooling families. If decisions were finalized that were unfavourable to WISDOM Homeschooling, the private boards are eager to be as helpful and supportive as possible to the displaced families.
HSLDA, along with Patty Marler, Government Liaison of AHEA, and HSLDA Board member Ray Strom, hosted a pair of meetings with families in Calgary and Edmonton on Monday and Tuesday of this week. These were a great success and encouragement! A big thanks to all who were able to attend! Approximately 260 people attended the Calgary event, and nearly 500 were present in Edmonton. Lisa McManus, Legal Counsel for HSLDA, was on hand to hear the concerns of the parents and to give them the information she had. For example, one issue that came up repeatedly at these meetings was the option of not notifying with the province as an act of civil disobedience. This action had been called “truancy” by some members, however, not notifying is not the same as truancy. Truancy means that a child is not attending school. Homeschooled children are still attending school even though they have not notified the province.
Another major development since our last email is that WISDOM Homeschooling and Trinity Christian School have filed an application for judicial review concerning the decision made against them, and have filed an injunction requiring AB Education to reinstate accreditation to WISDOM/Trinity. You can read their statement on their website. The first part of the court action will be heard this Friday, November 4th. It will decide whether Wisdom/Trinity will be able to stay open and continue to serve their families until the court action is complete. The entire decision won’t be made for many months or even years. As soon as we get the judge’s decision following Friday’s action we will be in touch with you with further advice. Depending on how things happen, this may be as late as the middle of next week as we work out new options. We remind you that there are currently no hard deadlines for re-notifying.
Our phones at HSLDA are still ringing off the hook and the emails are still flooding in. Thank you for your patience as we take time to give the necessary attention to each member. (A BIG thank you to Member Services director, Kerry Mullenix, who is fielding the vast majority of these calls!)
As details emerge, HSLDA will continue to provide homeschooling families in Alberta, and, indeed, concerned homeschooling families across Canada, with the ongoing developments. In fact, perhaps that is the most important part of this update: Alberta homeschooling families, you need to know that you have been heard, you are being supported, and you will be helped and strengthened throughout this entire process. Thank you for letting HSLDA, and homeschooling families across Canada, partner with you.