By Jamie Rieger
A Prairie Rose School Division special committee meeting was held in Foremost last Thursday to discuss the Low German Mennonite programming at the school. The meeting was by invitation-only with some parents concerned that the parent council was not asked to have representation there.
“This meeting was by invitation only. The school council was not even invited to attend,” said parent, Paul Laqua. “This is in regards to religious studies and it is the second controlled meeting they have held.”
Prairie Rose School Division superintendent, Brian Andjelic said however, that under the School Act, the board is permitted to hold in-camera meetings.
“The board is allowed to hold these committee meetings in private under the School Act and it will be up to the board to decide when and if it will make that information public,” said Andjelic.
Laqua noted that the parents have concerns about students who would not take the religious studies courses having to use that time as study time.
“For during public school hours, there is religious studies for the Mennonite students. During that time, the non-Mennonite students are to have study time. The religious studies are mandatory for the Mennonite students. How are you going to tell Grade 1 and Grade 2 students to go have study time?” said Laqua. “I have nothing against the religious studies or the Mennonite students, but what are my kids going to learn during that time?”
The Foremost School Council said they should have been able to have representation at the meeting to voice their concerns. A letter on behalf of the Foremost School Council was submitted to Prairie Rose School division representatives.
“Foremost School Council would like to make it known to you and the Board that we are extremely disappointed that a representative from our group was not invited to attend this meeting. As one of the stakeholders at Foremost School, we feel that there should be transparency when it comes to the ongoing process of these communications. Why does the board/division feel the need to exclude a significant part of the people who will be affected by the end decision,” reads a portion of the letter.
Laqua also said another concern of some parents was having students leave for long periods of time to go to Mexico, then come back and have to catch up on the curriculum.
“In the off-season, they go back to Mexico which is disruptive to the class with kids coming and going and the teachers trying to get them up to speed when they come back,” said Laqua. “This has absolutely nothing to do with prejudice. This is about my child’s education. My kids’ future and their kids’ future is at stake here.”
Andjelic also noted that a public meeting was held in December that the public had the opportunity to attend.
“They should have been at that meeting,” he said.