Guidelines for Best Practices
April 12, 2016 - Parkland School Division is a place where exploration, creativity, and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams. PSD’s vision can be found in Board Policy 1 which also includes Parkland School Division’s Foundational Statements and Code of Conduct.
In the Division, all members of our school community are expected to promote and demonstrate respect, civility, and responsible citizenship. There is an expectation that all must demonstrate honesty and integrity, respect differences in people, their ideas and their opinions and acknowledge the right of everyone to be treated with dignity at all times.
None of the above is new and is already commonplace in all of Parkland School Division’s schools.
Alberta Education recently released the “Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions”.
At the Parkland School Division Regular Board Meeting on April 5, 2016, administration shared changes to Administrative Procedures that have been developed in collaboration with the Board. The Guidelines for Best Practices document was meant as a guiding document for school boards and administrations to work with before the Government of Alberta’s deadline of March 31, 2016. The Administrative Procedures amended include:
- 350 - Developing and Maintaining a Culture of Inclusion and Wellness
- 353 - Developing a Student Code of Conduct
- 355 - Student Discipline
The release of ‘Guidelines for Best Practices’ brought stakeholder questions with intent to clarify the jurisdiction’s response and accompanying strategies. Please note the following:
- Policy 1 was already under review with respect to amendments stemming from the Alberta Bill of Rights
- Some concern has been raised through various media channels and through direct correspondence with the school division which call into question the safety of students with regard to assumptions derived from the Guidelines document presented as possible extremes
- Any policy or procedure amendments by legislation must promote, as paramount, the safety of learning environments, with regard to respect, caring and an appreciation for diversity. Ensuring the dignity, security and sense of belonging for any individual cannot and will not jeopardize the dignity, security and sense of belonging of any other individual.
Disclosing Information and Parent Involvement
The provisions of the School Act in loco parentis, and notwithstanding the Preamble that indicates, “the best educational interests of the student are the paramount considerations in the exercise of any authority under this Act,” dictate that, in any circumstance, the Division will proceed with the ultimate best interest of the child. To this end, as we always have, educators and educational administrators shall continue to:
- act in the best educational interest of each individual student
- provide for the right and responsibility for parents to make decisions respecting the education of their children
- diligently attend to the dignity and privacy of all individuals
With respect to gender identification and washroom selection, each school will determine strategies to accommodate the needs of all while respecting the dignity and security of each individual. These determinations will happen as needed on a case-by-case basis and no policy or procedure can exist that in any way reduces the dignity of any student. Washrooms that indicate ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ or ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ will continue to exist as they always have in Parkland School Division.
While publicly funded, Parkland School Division’s schools are private property. School safety and security extends beyond the issues raised by washroom access. Procedures exist to ensure that volunteers undergo criminal record checks and ALL individuals must check-in with the front office of any school prior to accessing other parts of the building. In loco parentis, supervision and student safety exists as a responsibility for all individuals employed by the Division. In other words, no adult male will be able to walk in off the street and access a ‘Girls’ washroom because he declares himself female or trans-gender. No adult female will be able to walk in off the street and access a ‘Boys’ washroom because she declares herself male or trans-gender.
For more information contact:
Centre for Education
4603- 48 Street
Stony Plain, AB T7Z 2A8
Toll Free: 1-800-282-3997 (only in Alberta)