No matter what educational setting your K-12 child is enrolled in - whether public, Separate/Catholic, independent/private, Charter, Francophone, an alternative program or home education - all are required to have "Safe and Caring" policies in place which comply with legislative changes from the passage of Bill 10 and 24.
(Learn more about specific legislative changes in Part A of this series: "How did Bill 10 & 24 change law in Alberta schools?")
According to section 45.1(6) of the School Act, these policies must be “available throughout the year in a prominent location on a publicly accessible website” and the website address must be displayed “in a place clearly visible to students in each school”.
Among all schools and districts in Alberta, three broad categories of compliance can be identified:
1. Courageous Conviction
- These schools are refusing to parrot the specific language demanded by the School Act
- "Safe and Caring" policies do not include any mention of adhering to section 16.1 of the School Act
- Some of these schools are challenging the constitutionality of these imposed School Act sections in court, while others are defying the demands without being a formal part of any court challenge
2. Confusing Contradictions
- These schools have clauses in their "Safe and Caring" policies which do parrot the specific language demanded by the School Act, namely section 16.1 and 45.1
- However, these policies also include other clauses which seemingly contradict, explicitly or implicitly, the parroted language of the School Act.
- Examples of additional clauses may include specifying how a club must adhere to certain faith teachings, requirements for parental notification or that clubs/activities are subject to the guidance of the principal, faith leaders or additional framework documents.
- Confusing contradictions arise because the law specifically denies the rights of schools to dictate any constraints or limitations on these clubs, as explained in Part A of this series: "How did Bill 10 & 24 change law in Alberta schools?"
- These "Safe and Caring" policies parrot the specific language demanded by the School Act with no stated qualifications on their compliance
- In many cases, these schools and districts already had policies which parroted the language of section 16.1 (brought in through Bill 10 back in March 2015).
- It should be noted that the passage of Bill 24 in November 2017 had little effect on this particular category of compliant schools. In fact, the intention of Bill 24 was to force compliance onto those schools which had still insisted on maintaining their professional autonomy and honoring their partnership with parents.
HOW DO I FIND MY SCHOOL POLICY?
Depending on where your child attends school, here are some pointers of where to look in order to find your school's "Safe and Caring" policy:
- If your child attends a public or Catholic school, visit the main school district or school board website (for example, the website of Edmonton Public Schools, Calgary Board of Education, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools)
- If your child attends a private, Charter or independent school, visit the specific school website
- If your child is part of a home education program, visit the school authority website who operates your program, whether public, Catholic or private/independent (refer to Understanding home education in Alberta: What is it and how is it structured?)
- Look for the words “Safe and Caring” policy/administrative procedure or "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" policy somewhere on the homepage of your school or school board website, or in a drop-down menu that is accessible from the homepage (For example, under drop down menus labeled "About Us", "Parents", "Board", "Policies", etc). By law, the policy is supposed to be posted online in a "prominent" location.
- The law specifically states that these policies should be made available upon request, meaning you can always phone or email to ask a school board for a copy of their "Safe and Caring" policy
- If you don't know where to find the website and contact information of your school, school district or school board, you can access all school authority websites and phone numbers on the Alberta Education website
Use the links below to access the other two sections of this three-part series, return to the introduction page, or download a printable version:
Main introduction page: Know how new laws impact Alberta schools & how to respond
To download a printable version of the entire PCE Toolkit, CLICK HERE