Media Advisory: Alberta Liberals to sponsor rally about the Seclusion Rooms Issue at the Alberta Legislature

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann are sponsoring a rally in support of concerned parents on the use of Seclusion Rooms prior to the opening of the Fall Session of the Alberta Legislature.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan stated, “We are raising awareness in support of many parents across Alberta who are concerned about the use and misuse of “Seclusion Rooms” in provincial school systems. These rooms are frequently utilized with special needs students. There have been several shocking incidents that had traumatic effects on the students. Parents neither approved of nor were even made aware the child was placed in an isolation room. This must stop immediately.

“We are also demanding that new mandatory rules governing the use of these seclusion rooms be approved by the NDP Education Minister during this Fall session of the Legislature. These rules must provide sensitive and compassionate direction for school systems surrounding the use of these rooms. Communication with parents and the outcome for special needs students must be included as key parts of these guidelines.”

Alberta Liberal MLA Dr David Swann stated, “Seclusion rooms can be devastating for some students and are counterproductive to helping students and addressing misbehaviour. Instead, evidence shows Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Positive Behaviour Intervention Supports (PBISs) are the key to helping these students. Seclusions rooms should never be used as a form of punishment or a way to modify student behaviour.

“We want the NDP Government to implement a mandatory province-wide policy on seclusion rooms. We are also recommending the creation of a sub-office of the Disability Advocate focused specifically on advocating for and listening to children with disabilities and their parents.”

Jenn Thompson, a mother of a special needs student and a leading community activist with the Serious Spectrum/Sensory Support community, will be hosting and speaking at the rally.

WHAT:        Rally on Seclusion Rooms

WHERE:     Alberta Legislature Front Steps

WHEN:       11:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Monday, October 29, 2018


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann call UCP Convention step backward for Albertans

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann are calling the UCP’s founding convention and policies a step backward for Albertans:

Khan stated, “I am disturbed by the policies passed threatening GSAs and the ability for youth to get access to important medical procedures coming out of the UCP convention this weekend.

“Alberta Liberals fought hard for the implementation of GSAs in the Fall of 2014 with MLA Laurie Blakeman pushing Bill 10.”

MLA David Swann added, “We were the first party to introduce to create and protect GSAs and we’ll keep fighting to protect a student’s right to access them.

Khan and Swann say “We find the policy supporting a requirement for parental consent for medical procedures offensive.

“A minor should not be denied access because of their parent’s beliefs.

“It should be the child’s decision to make.”

Khan concluded, “I fought against Jason Kenney in the Calgary-Lougheed by-election despite the odds because this is 2018 and his agenda takes us back to 1978.

“Alberta Liberals have the bold forward-thinking policies to give Albertans a better tomorrow.”

Khan and Swann are available for interview by phone or Skype. Dr. Swann is also available for interview at the “INS” in the Legislature at 1:15 pm.


Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann releases statement on Education Week

Alberta Liberal MLA has released the following statement on Education Week:

I am proud to stand up and recognize the important role education, educators and their support staff play in our society.

Education Week 2018’s theme – Learning is a Journey – reflects an important truth: that education is more than an end goal to work towards. It is also an enriching personal experience.

The Alberta Liberals will continue their commitment to policy that delivers high-quality education accessible to all of Alberta’s students.


Internal emails show NDP in damage control mode over transportation concerns

Alberta Liberals are releasing internal emails showing the NDP were in damage control mode over school transportation concerns in Calgary.

“It is troubling to see the government call the serious concerns of parents in Calgary ‘noise and confusion’,” says Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann. “The NDP were clearly aware of problems with the implementation of Bill 1 but chose spin over real action.”

The internal NDP email exchange was initiated by a parent urging the government to attend an information session with representatives from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Calgary Transit Service (CTS). The individual shares a personal story of the logisitical challenges and child safety concerns of using public transit for school, as well as the financial impact the transportation changes will have on struggling families. The emails ends with plea to “do the right thing for our children.”

The ministry admits the situation is challenging but directs NDP constituency offices them to “hold still on communicating” until a messaging strategy is devised.

“Calgary MLAs recognize the problem is wide spread and specifically hurts students in language schools,” says Swann. “But the problem remains. There’s been no indication of help for the CBE to solve these problems that the government created.”

A redacted copy of the email exchange is available for viewing here.


Calgarians sound the alarm over school transportation and bell times

Alberta Liberals are calling on the NDP government to take immediate action to address serious concerns over changes in transportation and bell times as a result of Bill 1.

“Minister Eggen needs to do more than just stage a photo op today,” says Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan. “He needs to come down to Calgary and listen to parents’ concerns, then take immediate action to rectify this completely unacceptable situation his government created by making a political decision without the necessary consultation.

“The unintended consequences of good, Liberal ideas being poorly implemented by the NDP is a pattern we’ve seen all too often.”

Alberta Liberals have heard repeated concerns from parents and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE), stemming from the CBE’s attempts to accommodate the requirements imposed on it by Bill 1.

“Many parents are expressing real anxiety – not to mention serious doubts – that they’ll be able to make it all work,” says Calgary-Mountain View Liberal MLA David Swann. “For some, it could mean needing to dramatically alter their work schedules, or even re-evaluating their employment situations entirely. In other cases, before and/or after school care may be required to help bridge any gaps. Regrettably, not every family has viable options in these areas.

“If getting a break on school and busing fees means one parent having to quit a job or a family having to spend more money on child care, it’s hard to see that as progress.”

Swann points out that most parents affected have children in alternative programs, which includes French immersion. The issue becomes particularly problematic in situations involving feeder/affiliated schools, where families find themselves with children in more than one CBE school.

“The NDP are waging a war of attrition on non-traditional public education,” says Swann. “We saw a clear example of this when I proposed Bill 1 be amended to include public charter schools and the government refused.”

“Parents need clarity and predictability when it comes to their children’s education. So far, they have yet to receive either from the NDP.”


Statement on including teaching of consent in sex education curriculum

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann issued the following statement in support of including the teaching of consent in the sexual education curriculum:

“Alberta Liberals have advocated for a number of years to include the teaching of consent as part of the sexual education curriculum. I am proud to say that we adopted this position as formal party policy in 2014.

“That is why I am very pleased to see influential voices in the Catholic School Board showing leadership by publicly discussing this matter. In particular, I applaud Marilyn Bergstra for putting forward a motion today that would call on the Board to lobby the government to include important concepts such as safe sex and consent, as well as programming that would address a variety of sexual orientations, in the sexual education curriculum.

“Consent is a subject that sex education teachers need to start discussing with students as early and as often as possible. Teaching that yes means yes, no means no, and that permission must be sought, and given, before any sexual activity can occur is fundamental to the understanding of proper sexual, and, indeed, societal behaviour.

“As a graduate student in public health, Ms. Bergstra brings an important perspective to this debate. Her motion is aimed at equipping students with crucial, practical knowledge – not encouraging sexual activity. Concerns that providing students with such knowledge would promote promiscuity are, in my view, misguided.

“Therefore, I would encourage the Board to carefully consider approving this motion, and help to show leadership in this important area of the sexual education curriculum.”


Swann seeks to amend Bill 1 to include charter schools in fee reduction

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is proposing an amendment to Bill 1, An Act to Reduce School Fees, to remove a clause which enables the NDP to exclude charter schools from school fee reductions.

“Alberta Liberals certainly support making life more affordable by reducing school fees; in fact, we would eliminate them completely,” says Swann. “However, we feel that all parents with students in public schools should benefit equally from these changes.

“My amendment ensures all public school student fees are reduced, which is what the NDP government had originally promised to do.”

The Charter Schools Handbook clearly defines a charter school as “a public school that provides a basic education in a different or enhanced way to improve student learning.”

Public Interest Alberta, a lobby group with extremely close ties to the NDP government, refers to charter schools as private schools, which “are not necessary or helpful.” It advocates eliminating their funding to “reallocate the money to fulfill [NDP] education-related campaign promises.” These proposals were included in a backgrounder to a release opposing Motion 504, which has been removed from Public Interest Alberta’s website. A copy was obtained by the Alberta Liberal Opposition and is available here.

Swann points out that this is exactly the scenario Bill 1 makes possible.

Yesterday, in Question Period, Swann pressed Education Minister David Eggen to clarify the government’s position on charter schools, but the Minister evaded the questions.

“The NDP is being unfair to the parents of charter school students and its decision to exclude them from this fee reduction is not based on fiscal or social realities; rather, it is ideologically motivated,” says Swann. “The government needs to be transparent about its plans for charter schools, not do it on the sly through regulations.”