Apology and a Reflection
I would like to wholeheartedly and unreservedly apologize to our ECSD Legal Counsel Carole Karbonik for the disrespectful remark that I made at our Public Board meeting held March 21st, 2017. Carole is a professional who is following orders, like any other district employee, and she deserves to be respected at a public board meeting and it is the Superintendent and the board who should be held accountable, not our staff. I’ve blogged before about how I believe she is put in a terribly awkward position in her role by our organizational chart and I should have been mindful of this when I made my remarks. My issue is with our process, not with her and I regret my remark.
I intend to apologize to Ms. Karbonik at the next public board meeting and I regret that I was not contacted by Janet French to apologize after the meeting before her article came out.
I’ve been praying for our Superintendent, and our Board of Trustees and asking for guidance on how we can move forward in a way that models the love of Christ. There are so many committed and wonderful staff in our district who need strong leadership from the board that is honest, transparent, inclusive, democratic, and courageous.
The tensions at the board table have been taking a great toll on me and I increasingly am doubting whether or not I should seek another term. I was frustrated like Trustees Acheson and Bergstra (https://marilynbergstra.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/new-world-order/) where certain trustees on the board have been using Roberts Rules to shut down debate before it even starts. I find this action anti-democratic and denies our constituents the opportunity to hear an issue, regardless of the decision. Why do we even have school boards then?
I believe that this all goes back to my advocacy for our sexual and gender minority students, staff and families. In February one of my colleagues took such an issue with my protection of LGBTQ rights that they threatened me in an email with sanction and alluded to my removal. Because much of the bullying I have experienced happens behind closed doors (as with so much of our business sadly) if I were to reveal more I would be censured, but I think the email below, much like the letters attempting to silence Dr. Wells, speaks for itself. My colleagues may be politically astute enough to know the political dangers of censoring me for supporting gay marriage on my personal twitter account and how that sort of overt attack on human rights could call the entirety of publicly funded catholic education into question.
I’m praying for strength and patience. I just want to get back to talking about education matters and how we can discuss important issues like collaborating with community partners, getting new school spaces, and saving money in this tough budget climate. (https://grellblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/cooperation-is-the-foundation-of-the-future-of-catholic-education-in-alberta/)
Whether I seek re-election or not, I remain dedicated to standing up for social justice in Christ’s example and loving my gay and lesbian neighbours as myself. I am willing to leave other matters such as the superintendents contract or getting to the bottom of why the ACSTA and catholic superintendents are targeting an Academic at the U of A but I will never be silent when it comes to human rights and equal marriage and the love that we must model for our most vulnerable youth. My faith demands nothing less of me.
Here is an email that I received from one of my colleagues February 19th:
Sent: Sunday, February 19, 2017 7:28 PM
To: Grell, Patricia <Patricia.Grell@ecsd.net>
Subject: Retweet of support of gay marriage
Dear Trustee Grell,
As per our Organizational Bylaw 13.2(a) this is to notify you of “first contact.” This pertains to the retweet of your support of gay marriage as attached.
It is my intent to bring this to the attention of the Board Chair as per Organizational Bylaw 13.2(b) that you are in violation of duties as a Catholic School Trustee (public representative of the Catholic Church) as you are openly defying teachings of The Catholic Church regarding gay marriage. Therefore I will be asking the Chair to start the sanction and censure process.
Patricia, it goes without saying, that I am most disappointed in you. I wish you would keep your personal opinions to yourself until you step down as Catholic school trustee or are removed as a Catholic school trustee.
I am open to discussing this with you.