On October 25, 2016, the Government of Alberta shut down one of the provinces largest Home Schooling Boards. They claimed in the announcement, that it was a long time coming yet nobody seemed to have any idea. The province has basically thrown 1/3 of all Alberta Home Schooled youth to the wind by shutting down Trinity Christian School (Wisdom Home School has 3500 registered home school students with them) two months into their school year.
You can’t convince me that this was a planned decision that had any thought put into it or the document sent to Trinity students and families that points to a list of accredited home school boards to register their kids with would not still include Trinity (the document was updated after 2am on October 26th to no longer include Trinity).
The problem thus far, is that there is very little information available and everything that is available seems like a whole lot of propaganda where facts should be laid out. Now that I have spent 10 hours researching the facts to sift through the propaganda… let’s look at some facts and some opinions…
I must immediately register my youth with another board because they have cancelled the accreditation of Trinity.
~ told to me on a phone call today with a representative from Alberta Education
Do I really? My kids were enrolled before October 1 as I was told to, so as far as I am concerned I can just send my paperwork into Education Minister David Eggen since he closed down the school that was allowed to accept it for the past 21 years.
Trinity has not met the standard of accountability and the Education department has claimed to have ongoing problems with Trinity on numerous occasions for recent years. David Eggen ordered an onsite financial review of Trinity in which the results are claimed to be “very alarming”.
I have read a whole lot of stuff written in Legalese and none of it seemed illegal to me. Some of it was questionable including Trinity and Wisdom writing off funeral expenses and alcohol (for a banquet though). If this was a company I wouldn’t question a bar tab here and there but for a school? If this was wrong it is a question for the CRA and until there is a determination of guilt the government should maybe do their job instead of the court’s job.
As a private school, Trinity is obligated to employ teachers.
Let’s Look at the Actual Law
This is the actual law from the Home Education Regulation 4(2)(b) (home-education-regulation_2006_145) where it says…
An associate board or associate private school supervising a home education program must arrange for teachers employed by the associate board or associate private school to conduct at least 2 evaluations of the progress of the student in each school year
~ Home Education Regulation 4(2)(b)
The government pointed out that teachers conducting home evaluations were not employed by Trinity but by Wisdom Home Schooling, a third party (about 4:10 of the audio recording from tonight’s conference call).
This is a clear-cut and significant breach of the Home Education Regulation.
~ David Eggen (Education Minister)
This is actually NOT a breach at all… not clear-cut and not significant.
Did Trinity employ teachers and did they do their job? Yes and yes. I don’t care if they were part time employees, contractors, sub-contractors or slaves. The word ’employ’ means “to use or get the services of someone to do a job”.
Now if the NDP are saying that sub-contracting is illegal, or contractors are illegal then we have a whole new blog post coming… and a lot less highways and buildings getting built with public money. I would bet that the 37-page Trinity Christian School Association Review document (trinity-christian-school-association-review) was prepared by a contractor or consultant. Was that illegal too?
Page 5 of the 37 page review seems to have caused all this insanity by stating the following…
Trinity did not pay any of the home education facilitators in the periods under review and pays one certificated teacher, for the regular 13 in school students however, there is no employment contract for this individual. Payments to this certificated teacher are also under a contractor relationship and are recorded under contract expense in Trinity’s general ledger. This is Inconsistent with section 28(2)(b)(iii) of the School Act.
~ Trinity Christian School Association Review (government funded document)
So here is a good question. I am a professional geek who has been writing for most of my adult life and I found the time and interest to actually look at the Alberta School Act (alberta-school-act_s03_2015-06-01). You would think that David Eggen (Education Minister) and Curtis Clarke (Deputy Education Minister) would have at least the same curiosity and time. This ‘Trinity Christian School Association Review’ document has been carefully edited and I can find no reference as to who actually wrote it but it had to be written in October as it references a letter to the Deputy Minister on September 29, 2016.
A private school is entitled to be accredited as an accredited private school if the Minister is satisfied that individuals whose qualifications are approved by the Minister are employed to teach at the school.
~ Alberta School Act – section 28(2)(b)(iii)
We have clarified that the word ’employed’ would cover contractors and sub-contractors in every other industry in Canada so they better not be stating that this is no longer legal in Alberta. Which only leaves to interpretation that the writer recommended to the Deputy Minister to cancel their accreditation based on the writer’s confidence that the Minister (David Eggen) did not approve of the teachers though I could find no reference of the private conversation the writer had with the Minister to determine this.
The Blame Game
Before you jump on me for blaming the writer of this review for the cancelling of Trinity’s accreditation, take a look at page 36…
Recommendation: Based on the findings described in this report, the Deputy Minister cancel Trinity’s accreditation and registration commencing immediately due to concerns over its ability to supervise the home education program…
~ Trinity Christian School Association Review (page 36, section 6)
That sounded suspiciously almost word for word what the letter stated from the Deputy Minister’s desk today (trinity-christian-school-association-letter)…
1. Trinity has failed to appropriately supervise its home education program.
~ Curtis Clarke (Deputy Minister) letter to Trinity Christian School Association
Wisdom recovered after being blind sided today with a public response for their families (wisdom-shutdown-statement-wisdom-home-schooling).
The Big Laugh
Here is the funniest thing. That 37 page review went back way past the 7 years that I have ever dreamed of keeping receipts. It nit-picked and found a pile of possible infractions that might land a bunch of people in prison…
- $130,000 in GST deductions that might not be legal over 3 years
- It found a $750 receipt with missing paperwork from US Customs
- It found that a couple staff claimed $55 daily meal expenses when one of their meals was free that day
- They spent $8000 on a banquet for staff and families during a provincial education conference
- they paid someone $304 for mileage in the same month that they paid a $300 vehicle allowance to them (not even sure what is wrong with this)
The list goes on and the document is riveting but the end result is that of $5.18M given to Trinity to educate Alberta youth, every penny in seemed was accounted for. The government seems to think it is worth disrupting the education of 3500 youth because they don’t like that the money was managed by Wisdom when it should have been in Trinity’s bank.
Maybe there won’t be any prison time handed out after all.
They go on to complain about the relationship between Wisdom and Trinity. Trinity apparently takes all the government money given to them and hands it to Wisdom and they in turn pay teachers as well as parents as per government regulations (of which there seems to be no end).
There is some complaining about deductions and write-offs which all seems to me like a problem for the CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency). But since this is publicly funded, I can live with the NDP having a say in the matter and even calling in the RCMP.
What I can’t wrap my head around, is some bureaucrat at the legislature putting locks on the doors of a school because they wrote a cheque from a bank account that didn’t belong to the school. Slap his hand and make Wisdom put the money in an account for Trinity. But there is no place on earth I can think of where closing a school can begin to make sense, especially before any RCMP investigation.
Call in the RCMP
I would love to credit the photo but CBC didn’t so I have no idea who to credit… they did of course point out that Wisdom didn’t pay out $1M over the past 3 years… they missed the part where the money not dispersed is supposed to be sitting in a bank… and it is. Thanks for pointing out the fact that Trinity has near perfectly balanced books but making them look bad for it… most days I have no use for liberal media or politicians and today is like most days.
In several documents I found references to the fact that the NDP government is calling in the RCMP and CRA to investigate further. I don’t think anyone cares. I certainly don’t. The review that the NDP paid for with my money seems to be a pretty solid record that any wrong-doing was minimal at best.
There may be some CRA amount owing after an audit but nothing that would amount to anything large enough or contrived to suggest a fine would even be handed out. Yet the NDP decided that they found something that no other previous government in 21 years had uncovered.
Organized Crime is Rampant in Alberta
If the NDP wants to crack down on spending they don’t have to look far. This is the government that is crippling our economy with rising taxes during a recession, increased minimum wages and a $10B deficit this year.
This is the government that spent $4.4M to tell Albertans that they were going to tax the shit out of them for a climate change plan that has zero percent change of making any change to the climate. Oh, and that plan is going to cost Albertans another $4B.
This is the government that allows MLAs to spend $4800 a month on coffee… I am sorry, I forgot that she was stocking up for her entire term and it is actually only $150 a month. Of course the k-cups she bought have a “best before” date that is 9 months after purchase but NDP MLA Barb Miller is a politician… lying comes second nature to her.
It is Getting Personal
I have personally registered youth for many years of home schooling with Wisdom. I didn’t realize that for the past 21 years they have been operating in secret. Thank God the NDP showed up this year to uncover this heinous crime. In all my experience I have never felt like they did not ‘adequately supervise home schooling’ in my home.
Maybe it is me being a little bitter toward the arrogance of politicians, but the thing that pushed me over the edge today was reading the letter that Deputy Minister Curtis Clarke sent to Trinity this morning (yes, it was dated October 25, 2016). In that letter, he simply says, I am cancelling your accreditation as a school because you broke two rules.
“In short, Trinity has failed to demonstrate the it has the ability or willingness to oversee an education program or to properly account for its spending of public funds. My decision is final.”
~ Curtis Clarke (Deputy Minister)
Hello Curtis Clarke!
You obviously have no idea who I am or who you are. ‘Your’ decision being final means very little in your current job. You work for the people. We are your boss and OUR decision is final.
I will be doing whatever I can to overturn YOUR ‘final’ decision and point out your incompetence… and we the people will be giving you OUR final decision come the next election.
Two Pieces of Advice:
Here are the two pieces of advice I am following…
- I am NOT switching school boards. If I don’t get my money by the end of the school year, I might consider legal action against the Government for failing to provide the basic necessities to educate my children but that is a long time away and by then Trinity will have started and probably ended their legal action against this corrupt government.
- I have signed up for a membership with the Canadian Chapter of the Home School Legal Defense Association. I have sent them a comment (not a nice one) about the lack of pricing on their site for a membership but you can see prices for the US organization here. (EDIT: They got back to me today with the following…
“Standard membership fee is $162.72, discounted $135.60. (Pastor/Missionary, single parent, registered discount group).”
- I was never great with math so here is #3… if you look at the comment from Andrew below it would be a great act of solidarity if you could go sign this Petition. I may not do a lot of good but it can do no harm and when people see 1200 others signing up they feel like they are not alone.