The Trinity Christian School Association will continue to operate under an agreement reached in court Thursday morning.
Funding had been pulled in the fall after the results an audit report was passed to the provincial government. Education Minister David Eggen at the time claimed there had been over a million dollars in misspent funds. Some people worried it was an NDP attack on school choice.
“The government of Alberta has stated publicly that they’re dedicated to education options, one of which includes home schooling,” Trinity’s lawyer, Jay Cameron said. “At this point I don’t have any reason to doubt that. I’m certainly not going to question motivations or anything like that in regards to the closure.”
In court, the judge said he didn’t like how either side was dealing with the issue, saying it was like a married couple having a fight with no thought for the needs of the kids.
Justice E.J. Simpson said one of the questionable funeral expenses pointed out by the government turned out to be a $5 sympathy card to the family after the death of a teacher, calling it an issue a smear.
The judge also said concerns have been bubbling at Trinity and the Wisdom Home Schooling Society for years, with nothing being done on their end. He described it as self-righteous and said Trinity should have made changes earlier.
“The justice saying that they should have done it earlier, or referencing that they could have made changes earlier, that’s true,” Cameron said. “But they were in a mode of operating for 16 years and had done so with the authorization and instruction of Alberta Education. Those things have been remedied now and they can move on.
While the school board will keep running, a financial administrator will be appointed for a 12 month period. In a statement, Eggen said reaching this agreement is in the best interest of the kids.
“Our priority has been ensuring that the funding we provide for education is being used to support students. We believe that today’s agreement achieves this goal. It also ensures stability for more than 3,500 Alberta students. I stand behind the actions we have taken in this matter and officials will now move to assisting Trinity with developing governance and accounting practices that are at the standard expected by Alberta taxpayers.”
“I can commend Alberta Education for making this agreement,” Cameron said. “I think they did the right thing. I think it was the respectful thing and the best thing they could have done in the circumstances. I’m grateful for the reasonableness of it.”
As part of the deal, the WISDOM Home Schooling Society of Alberta will not be involved in making any governance or financial decisions.
The judge said two reasonable people could have met to work things out, without the time and expense of going through the courts. (kdr/bd)