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Hello from an Edmonton public school board meeting with a loaded agenda. 13 members of the public are scheduled to speak today. (For school board, that's loads). Link for nerds: epsb.ca/ourdistrict/bo… #abed #epsb
I'm fighting with the internet right now, so live tweeting may or may not work well today. Board chair @TrishEstabrooks kicks off the meeting noting the climate strike coming on Friday. Teens and post-sec students expected to rally at the legislature. #abed #ableg
@TrishEstabrooks Tomorrow morning, they're going to demolish part of Highlands school to make way for a new addition, and Estabrooks said the education minister will be there. (I guess I will be, too, then?) Estabrooks plans to remind minister of substantial need for new schools in #yeg #abed
@TrishEstabrooks With recent attention on youth vaping, Estabrooks reminds the public the school board does have a policy addressing vaping on campuses. #abed Background: edmontonjournal.com/news/local-new…
@TrishEstabrooks The board has agreed to extend the amount of time to hear from the public to an hour from the usual 20 minutes. Most speakers are here to address a motion on the use of seclusion rooms, made by trustee @shelaghdunn #abed epsb.ca/media/epsb/our…
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Dunn wants the board to ask the education minister to state seclusion rooms should only be used in emergencies, and to provide more expertise so they can phase out use of seclusion rooms. #abed #ableg
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn For those who've not been following, the former NDP education minister banned seclusion rooms as of Sept. 1. At the last minute, the UCP education minister reversed that ban at the urging of some school boards. edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/… #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Eight-year-old Cason Shaw and his mum Jo-Anne Granstrom are among the presenters. They explained to the board an alternative resolution process that allows the voices of kids with behavioural issues to be heard. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Cason's dad, Ross, a MacEwan prof., points to post-secondary institutions and schools that do not have seclusion rooms. Why do EPSB schools need them if other institutions don't, he asks. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Mother Brooke Pinsky said parents won't accept a lack of resources as a reason for locking children in a small, bare room. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Several speakers are pointing to evidence of trauma and harm caused to children who are involuntarily confined. Edmonton public has 129 seclusion rooms in its 213 schools. #abed #ableg
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Kristi Rouse, a parent of a child on the autism spectrum who was on the NDP seclusion room working group, said the issue shouldn't be about the rooms themselves. There are proactive ways to prevent behavioural outbursts, she said. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Parent Sabrina Park, who has a child in Grade 12, said schools need to create clarity about the difference between calming rooms and isolation rooms. Every school should have a calming room, none should have seclusion rooms, she said. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Park says this about seclusion rooms: "These rooms make children feel punished. They don't feel safe in these rooms." The interim standards may say use should be sparse, but parents report children being placed in seclusion repeatedly, she said. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Park asks trustees to go and look at seclusion rooms, and discontinue their use. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Also: the Edmonton Catholic school board meeting is also starting right now so here is your semi-regular reminder that both boards would get more news coverage if they stopped scheduling their meetings at. the. exact. same. time. Rant complete until next month. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Back to seclusion, a lawyer, whose last name I missed, urges the school board to look at the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities un.org/development/de… Children are not to be isolated based on disability status, she said. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Stella, the lawyer, said seclusion rooms fail to consider the perspectives of children. Their use feels like punishment regardless of the intention of the adult, she said. This is a moral, not funding issue, she said. "It is a cheaper option not a better option." #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Student Yara Cabral-Seixas, 17, is here to ask for the board's support for Friday's global climate strike. Young people are tired of empty words -- they want change on climate policies from the top, she said. aid she wants to be a parent, but will she be alive in 30 years? #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Switching gears, the board is now talking about the uphill battle that is parent engagement in schools. Admin said recruitment for school councils is a perpetual battle. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn Trustees are now talking about how they try to engage parents. @michaeljanz notes the, um, extremely female makeup of school councils and gives a shout out to increasing number of involved dads in Greenfield. He also suggests serving food to increase turnout. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn @michaeljanz Most of the report to the board is about the revamp of SchoolZone, the web portal parents and guardians use to get info/updates about kids and school. New version supposed to be more mobile friendly. epsb.ca/media/epsb/our…
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn @michaeljanz I am not at liberty to opine on SchoolZone, but my husband is a software developer and hates SchoolZone with the fire of 10,000 suns. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn @michaeljanz Trustee @NathanIpYEG said the bus-tracking GPS functionality doesn't always work, he's heard from parents. Is there a place for parents to report bugs in the software? Admin says they have done surveys, received feedback via the school, and there's a support email address.
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn @michaeljanz @NathanIpYEG Board is back after a wee break. Will now discuss Dunn's motion about seclusion rooms. Dunn is crying and said she made the motion because she is losing sleep over the seclusion room issue. She thanks people who presented today - hears they want her motion to go further. #abed
@TrishEstabrooks @shelaghdunn @michaeljanz @NathanIpYEG It's not on teachers, school staff, or families advocating for their kids - it's on the school board to make sure they have the right supports, right staff mix and training in schools, Dunn said. If secl. rooms are being used, "the system has failed," Dunn said. #abed
Trustee @NathanIpYEG said he used to work as an advocate for Inclusion Alberta, so has unique perspective in seclusion rooms. It was moving to hear from families today, he said. #abed
@NathanIpYEG I should say, the board discusses each recommendation separately. They're discussing the first one now. Dunn notes a seclusion room is not the only form of involuntary confinement. #abed #ableg
@NathanIpYEG Superintendent @EPSB_Super says the division's own regulation was also under review. Here it is: epsb.ca/ourdistrict/po… They have been much clearer about what defines seclusion, and obtaining parental permission in advance, he said. Policy excerpt: #abed
@NathanIpYEG @EPSB_Super Trustee @bridgetstirling said board must be as clear as possible it doesn't matter which space or room a child is confined in, but their message should address the practice of confinement. #abed
@NathanIpYEG @EPSB_Super @bridgetstirling The board has unanimously passed the first recommendation, that "involuntary
confinement ... is not used as a punishment or behaviour
management technique, and is only used as a last resort in emergency situations endangering the
physical safety of students or staff." #abed
Board now discussing second seclusion room recommendation. Trustee @NathanIpYEG wants to add a target to phase out EPSB seclusion room use by fall 2022. Colleagues have questions about this proposed amendment. #abed #ableg
Oops here’s the proposed amendment #abed
@NathanIpYEG Trustee @KenGibsonyeg questions what liability would the board have if seclusion rooms eliminated, but preparation not up to snuff, and parents, staff felt schools had failed to provide a safe space? #abed
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg Supt'd Robertson calls Ip's proposal a "noble goal" but says if not achieved, they could be opening themselves up to liability. Legal counsel said she can provide advice in camera. #abed
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg Admin says 4,300 EPSB staff have non-violent crisis intervention training, and some are regularly recertified, superintendent says. A complete elimination of seclusion rooms would require support from Alberta health workers in schools, possible programming changes, he said #abed
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg Trustee @bridgetstirling said board needs to have moral courage. "I really believe we need to have more than hopes and aspirations," Stirling said. They need a goal. Supreme Court gave Canada one year to write medical aid in dying rules, she said. #abed
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg @bridgetstirling "Sometimes you've got to do what's right," Stirling said. The board has to do better for children, Stirling said. #abed
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg @bridgetstirling If the board is worried about liability, what about a family suing the board for harming a child by secluding them, Stirling asks? (My note: A legal case in Elk Island Public Schools is actually what prompted this provincial discussion in the first place). #abed
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg @bridgetstirling Estabrooks said she is concerned about a timeline for phase out of seclusion rooms without first consulting with school division staff. "It is brave, but we've got to do it right," she said. Doesn't want to create false hope, she says. #abed
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg @bridgetstirling Dunn said she hears from the superintendent the division would need a radical overhaul of the system to include health-care providers in school to make a no-seclusion room environment work. So be it, she says. #abed #ableg
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg @bridgetstirling "I believe that involuntary confinement of children is wrong. It's ethically wrong," Dunn said. #abed
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg @bridgetstirling Ip said he is "very uncomfortable" with involuntary confinement, that they keep hearing seclusion rooms are not only being used in crises. "It's a fundamental human rights issue we have to take full positions on, and leadership on," Ip says. #abed
@NathanIpYEG @KenGibsonyeg @bridgetstirling Ip said a three-year goal to stop seclusion room use may be arbitrary, but it pushes them to move the needle. This is about accountability, he says. #abed
The board voted 6-1 in favour of adding the seclusion room phase out timeline of fall 2022. Draper and Gibson are here so I’m not sure where their votes are. #abed #ableg
Board has now tacked on two more amendments to include parent engagement and research best practices. Many school divisions do not have seclusion rooms. #abed
Correction to an earlier tweet: apparently EPSB did not have regulations about seclusion room use before. Regulations are new. They did have district guidelines, and followed provincial guidelines. #abed
Gibson wants the board to go in camera to discuss liability issues phasing out seclusion rooms with division's legal counsel. Approved unanimously. They never go in camera so I'm not sure what happens now. Oh, trustees are leaving the room. #abed
There's potentially three other major items still go to on this agenda. I'd like to order 10 large pizzas to the Centre for Education, please.
DAMMIT no pizza allowed
Here’s a little nugget of EPSB history while we await the board’s return. Ah, here come. #abed
The board just voted to remove two reports from the agenda so they (likely) won't be here until midnight. #abed
Here's a procedural move I haven't seen — after amending their recommendation to add a timeline to phasing out seclusion rooms, the board has now voted to divide the recommendation into two separate recommendations, pulling out the timeline into a separate vote. #abed
New advocacy points board will vote on: pushing the education minister for increased funding for children with complex needs, increased training and specialists, more parent feedback #abed
Estabrooks asks the superintendent whether these measures would eliminate the need for seclusion rooms. Robertson said he can't say that definitively. Dunn says while they consult with province on future of seclusion rooms, they can ask for more help. #abed
Trustee Sherry Adams has a blanket and I am jealous because McCauley Chambers is chilly.
Trustee Stirling said boards never know what the province will do, but they can advocate for what they think is right. She points to UN convention on rights of the child (Alberta endorsed this in 1999, apparently). #abed #ableg
The board has voted unanimously in favour of advocating to the education minister for more assistance with the goal of eliminating the need for seclusion rooms. #abed #ableg
Trustee @mdraper_YEG has proposed moving discussion of a timeline for eliminating the use of seclusion rooms in EPSB to caucus (a private meeting), due to potential legal implications. @bridgetstirling is concerned this will move debate out of the public eye. #abed
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling The board has voted to refer discussion of a timeline for elimination of seclusion rooms to a private meeting for legal discussion. (Sounds like they want a final discussion on that to be in public, but that wasn't part of the motion). #abed
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling Onward. @michaeljanz had to leave to pick up a kid, so @bridgetstirling is moving his motion to request a discussion tonight on granting students "the option, with parent or guardian permission, to attend the climate action event" at the legislature Friday. #abed
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling @michaeljanz Here's a story for background. He's not calling it "academic amnesty" anymore. Board has agreed to have the debate tonight. #abed #ableg edmontonjournal.com/news/local-new…
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling @michaeljanz Trustee @mdraper_YEG asks what precedent this would set. Does the board have to sanction each walkout one by one? @bridgetstirling said the board needs to have a larger discussion about how the division accommodates student political action in the future. #abed
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling @michaeljanz Trustee Sherry Adams said she doesn't remember the board agreeing climate change is an emergency. Did it? #abed
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling @michaeljanz Stirling said the city has declared a climate emergency, and you don't have to agree it's a climate emergency to support the motion. #abed
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling @michaeljanz Adams, who is a trustee for SE #yeg, said there are some researchers who disagree with a characterization of climate change as an emergency. @bridgetstirling said 97 per cent of research papers back human-caused climate change. Evidence in support is overwhelming, she said #abed
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling @michaeljanz Adams said she won't support the motion. She said there is credible research by peer-reviewed researchers saying the "science is not settled" on carbon dioxide-caused climate change. Activism should be based on evidence, she said. #abed
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling @michaeljanz Chair Estabrooks said she's heard from parents, via email, in person about this issue. Climate change is real, she said. "In my mind there are few issues more pressing" that affect so many people than climate change, she said. #abed
@mdraper_YEG @bridgetstirling @michaeljanz .@bridgetstirling giving passionate closing arguments here, saying it's critical to hear from youth in the face of climate change as an existential threat. #abed
Board votes 6-1 (Sherry Adams opposed) to give students the option to attend global climate rally on Friday. #abed #ableg
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