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Motion: ACSTA Consultation Process

March 11, 2017

I was going to bring forward a motion to the March 21, 2017 ECSD Public Board however I received some clarifications to my questions from ACSTA President Adriana LaGrange which you can find in italics next to the questions posed.  I will however be bringing forward the following updated motion based upon the answers I received from President LaGrange:

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association is an association comprising of democratically elected trustees from across Alberta, the Yukon and the NWT. It is an Association which is funded by membership fees from 24 Boards: 18 Alberta Catholic Boards, 4 Alberta Francophone Boards, 1 Yukon and 1 NWT. Edmonton Catholic School District paid $154,801.66 in membership fees to ACSTA in 2016 and will be paying $164,023.21 in membership fees in 2017. In 2017, the ACSTA will receive a total of $786,246.32 in membership fees to operate — all of which will come from per student education grants from provincial and territorial governments funded by tax payers.

Given that the ACSTA is a tax payer funded organization that represents 24 Boards and over 100 trustees, I was very concerned to read then, in a March 10, 2017 edition of the Edmonton Journal that the ACSTA wrote a letter of complaint on September 16, 2017 against Dr. Kris Wells of iSMS to the Douglas R. Stollery, Chancellor of the Senate, University of Alberta.  I was concerned and surprised because this was the first time I heard of any issue from the ACSTA with Dr. Wells’ comments.   I was also concerned because I had no opportunity as a democratically elected trustee to speak to the issue.  Had I been able to, I could have offered some insights into it and prevented what has now become a media storm.

As I made inquiries with our Board of Directors representative on the ACSTA, Larry Kowalczyk, I learned that he failed to inform our Board of the issue between September 9, 2016 and March 10, 2017 when the information was released to the public.  He apologized for this oversight and I have accepted it.

I learned from a highly constructive conversation with President Adriana LaGrange that after coming out of camera on September 9, 2016, the ACSTA Board of Directors neglected to list the action item of writing to various representatives at the U of A.  This is the usual practice for Boards – no decisions are made in camera, only discussions occur in camera.  I believe it is important for our Board to remind the ACSTA that in the interest of transparency, action items should be listed after coming out of in camera discussions.  (If you go to the September 9, 2016 minutes you will note that another in camera discussion item that led to an action was listed however the one to write the letters to the U of A was not).

I believe that some clarification is also necessary on the part of the ACSTA to remind their Board of Directors that the Bourinot Rules of Order allow for in camera discussions to be shared with their Boards.  President Adriana LaGrange assured me that this was the case with the Bourinot Rules of Order.

I also learned that any additional documents in the Board of Directors’ packages are attached to their agendas not to their ratified minutes.  I believe that any documents referred to in the ratified online minutes should be attached to them so trustees and the public can better understand what is being discussed.  In the November 18, 2016 minutes, there is a motion made by Ron Schreiber to request that ACSTA respond to the October 28, 2016, letter from University of Alberta President, David Turpin.  The letter that sent to President Turpin and the letter back from him are not attached to the minutes making it very difficult to understand what Trustee Schreiber is referring to.

I would also suggest that when the ACSTA makes mention of an issue in their minutes, they do so in a more transparent fashion to allow trustees and the public to understand clearly what is being addressed.  For example, the letter to and from President Turpin as referred to in the November 18, 2016 minutes could have referred to inviting him to an ACSTA event.

So in the interest of transparency, I request the following:

That the ECSD Board of Trustees write a letter by April 21, 2016 to the ACSTA and request that in the interest of transparency they make the following changes in their governance process:

  1. When the Board of Directors meets to deal with an in camera item, that that in camera item be brought back from the Board Director to their respective Boards for discussion and input
  2. when the Board of Directors meets in camera, they are permitted by the Bourinot Rules of  Order to share their discussion with their Boards
  3. when the Board of Directors meets in camera, that when they come out of camera, they list their action items in their minutes
  4. when the Board of Directors makes reference to  any documents in their minutes, that they attach those documents to their ratified minutes
  5. when the Board of Directors makes reference to an issue in their minutes, that they do so in a manner such that trustee members and the public can understand what is being referred to
  6. that the ACSTA President and Vice President speak to their Board of Directors and remind them that they are representatives of their respective Boards and therefore have a duty to inform their Boards of ACSTA conversations, legal expenditures, legal actions, activities, concerns, etc.

 

 

Previous Motion for March 21, 2017 (please see answers to my questions in italics)

To: Board of Trustees

From: Patricia Grell, Trustee

Re: ACSTA Consultation Process

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association is an association comprising of democratically elected trustees from across Alberta, the Yukon and the NWT. It is an Association which is funded by membership fees from 24 Boards: 18 Alberta Catholic Boards, 4 Alberta Francophone Boards, 1 Yukon and 1 NWT. Edmonton Catholic School District paid $154,801.66 in membership fees to ACSTA in 2016 and will be paying $164,023.21 in membership fees in 2017. In 2017, the ACSTA will receive a total of $786,246.32 in membership fees to operate — all of which will come from per student education grants from provincial and territorial governments funded by tax payers.

I was very concerned to read then, in a March 10, 2017 edition of the Edmonton Journal that the ACSTA wrote a letter of complaint on September 16, 2017 against Dr. Kris Wells of iSMS to the Douglas R. Stollery, Chancellor of the Senate, University of Alberta.  I was concerned and surprised because this was the first time I heard of any issue from the ACSTA with Dr. Wells’ comments.   had never heard  claiming to speak on behalf of ACSTA and “the member school boards we represent”.   As a democratically elected trustee on a Board that is a paying member in good standing with ACSTA, I am concerned that this letter was sent out without any consultation and deliberation from ACSTA’s member Boards’ representatives. The ECSD representative on the ACSTA Board of Directors is Trustee Larry Kowalczy.  He told me today that he first learned of the letter at a Board of Directors’ meeting during the November 18 – 20, 2016 ACSTA AGM.  He attempted to speak to the letter at an ECSD Governance and Priorities meeting after the AGM however the Board ran out of time, the item not mentioned and then got missed on future Board agendas.  It is unfortunate that no Catholic trustee at least was cced on it. Nor was information about this letter raised to the general membership at the November 2016 ACSTA AGM.

Because we as trustees are democratically elected and our Catholic Association is tax payer funded, I move the following:

That the ECSD Board request by April 21, 2017 that the ACSTA Chair, Vice Chair and Board of Directors answer the following questions:

  1. Who made the decision to send this letter of complaint against Dr. Wells? The Board of Directors which met on September 9, 2016.  Please go to the minutes of this meeting here.
  2. What role did the Edmonton Archdiocese and/or Alberta bishops play in sending this letter? The Archdiocese did not play a role in raising the issue over Dr. Wells.  The Council of Catholic Superintendents of Alberta communicated to ACSTA President LaGrange that they were going to write a letter to the U of A regarding Dr. Wells and wanted ACSTA to do the same.  
  3. Why did President Adriana LaGrange write that she was representing the ACSTA member school boards when none of the Boards representatives were consulted? The Board Directors were consulted at a  Sept. 9, 2016 meeting and together they made a decision to write a letter to the Chancellor.  They neglected to put their action item in their September 9, 2016 minutes after they came out of camera even though another action item was listed.  
  4. Why did the ACSTA not raise their concerns regarding Dr. Wells or inform their membership of their complaint letter at the November 2016 AGM? The minutes were distributed at their November 18, 2016 Board of Directors’ meeting with the letters sent to the U of A attached to their agendas.  These letters unfortunately were not attached to the ratified online minutes of Sept. 9 or Nov. 18, 2016 to ensure trustees understood the actions the ACSTA were taking.  The ACSTA did not raise the issue at the November AGM because they believed that their Board of Directors was taking the information back to their respective Boards and sharing it.  This was not the case with our Board of Director Larry Kowalczyk.  He did not share any of this information until I phoned him after reading the March 10, 2017 story in the Edmonton Journal.  I have met another trustee on a Catholic Board who stated that their Board Representative also failed to share this information with them.  I am unsure how many other Catholic trustees experienced the same lack of communication from their Board of Directors representative.
  5. Why did the ACSTA choose not to use the resolution mechanism available to it to ensure that the letter truly reflected support from the “member boards”? The ACSTA Board of Directors wished to move quickly on addressing their issues with Dr. Wells.  Using a resolution mechanism would have delayed their action of writing the letter to the U of A.  The ACSTA could have asked their Board of Directors representatives to go back to their respective Boards to inform and consult them to see what action the trustees wished them to take on such a serious public issue.  Had they taken the time to do this, trustees would have been informed of the actions ACSTA wished to take and could have offered their input.  The ACSTA’s decision to act quickly and without proper consultation with trustees has led to a media storm.  
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One Comment
  1. Thank you for trying to keep the trustees honest. Unchecked power is very dangerous, especially from white, middle-class males.

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