More By-Elections Denied
Elk Island Public Schools is at it again.
After removing a trustee under questionable circumstances, they're now refusing to hold a by-election to replace him!
Once again, a school board is defending leaving thousands of parents unrepresented by arguing that a by-election would cost too much.
In this case, "too much" is a cost of just $40,000, when said school board has millions in reserves and an annual budget of over $208 million.
We say “once again” because this is becoming an all-too-predictable pattern for school boards across Alberta.
Last February, we filled you in on three school boards that were planning on going three or more years without their full complement of democratically elected school board members.
Then, in June, we updated you on Edmonton Public also deciding not to hold a by-election when Nathan Ip left his school board seat to become an MLA.
Since then, the chair of Edmonton Public stepped down as chair, but did not leave her seat as a trustee, to run for the federal NDP nomination in Edmonton Centre.
This left even more parents functionally unrepresented in Edmonton, with no democratic recourse.
Finally, in December, we spelled out the highly dubious reasoning Elk Island Public gave for removing the aforementioned trustee.
This came after a much more widely-publicized questionable trustee removal from Red Deer Catholic.
While the legal challenge to that removal continues, Red Deer Catholic have not clarified whether they will be holding a by-election to fill their vacancy.
Incidentally, the City of Red Deer will soon be holding a by-election to fill a vacancy after the death of a councillor, so a by-election for Red Deer Catholic could be done quite cheaply, as it would take place at the same time.
But we know that for school boards, the hesitancy to hold a by-election isn't about the money.
A by-election brings accountability to the trustees and the administration, including accountability for the removal of the previous trustee.
That the education of kids hangs in the balance should make us more eager to see accountability on the school board level, not less.
School trustees are the only elected officials in Alberta who can be removed from their seat with half their term remaining, without triggering a by-election.
The Alberta government should amend the law to remove this loophole and ensure that all parents across Alberta can have the representation they deserve.
If you agree that Parents Deserve School Trustee By-Elections, please sign our petition:
Once you've signed, please forward this email to your friends and fellow parents across Alberta, so they can lend their support too.
Jeff and the Alberta Parents’ Union Team