Religious Only Schools in Morinville may Violate Constitutional Guarantees

Many parents and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are concerned about the situation in Morinville and Legal, Alberta, where the local option of public secular school for the town’s children remains out of reach.  The CCLA notes there is only one option of schooling in Morinville, The Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division (“GSACRD”). They claim to be the public school board for the region, but only offers “….education where ‘Catholic theology, philosophy, practices and beliefs, the principles of the Gospel and teachings of the Catholic Church, are made accessible to students, including in the curriculum of every subject taught, both in and outside of formal religion classes, celebrations and exercises’.”

The CCLA notes that the situation may violate constitutional guarantees for public secular education. Freedom from religious instruction in schools is not offered in the towns of Morinville or Legal and there is no secular public option. The situation may also violate Alberta’s Human Rights Act, Section 11.1, which states that parents may request their children opt out of religious instruction and “…remain in the classroom or place without taking part in the instruction, course of study or educational program or using the instructional materials.” Given religious education permeates all instruction in every class, optional opt-out provisions offered by GSACRD may be meaningless unless there is the possibility of children opting out of every class in the GSACRD school system.

Most recently, the GSACRD has contracted out school services to Sturgeon School Division and the town of Morinville will lease out the local Community Cultural Centre to Sturgeon schools to provide secular education to children in grades 1 to 4 until December. During this time, the Alberta Ministry of Education will be installing two modular classrooms at Vanier school. This solution is not seen by some parents as a permanent solution and does not solve the problem of providing secular education to all students. Those children in grades 5 onward appear to only have the option of religious education in their home town. To read more on recent development, see:

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2011/08/04/morinville-secular-schooling-issue-nearing-resolution
and
http://morinvillenews.com/2011/08/04/secular-education-to-be-offered-in-morinville-for-2011-2012-school-year/

To read the CCLA letter outlining the problems in the Morninville area, see:

http://ccla.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/2011-07-22-Letter-re-GSACRD-and-Morinville.pdf

The following Edmonton Journal article also summarizes some of the issues:

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Many+obstacles+clear+before+secular+education+comes+Morinville/5165056/story.html

This entry was posted in Equal Rights, Freedom of Religion, Fundamental Human Rights, Rule of Law. Bookmark the permalink.

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