Skip to content

Division has ‘extreme confidence’ in teachers: CESD superintendent

Provincial government and the ATA are engaged in a bitter and ongoing dispute
MVT stock Chinook's Edge building front
There are over 600 teachers in Chinook's Edge. File photo/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL - Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD) has complete faith in the more than 600 teachers currently working in the Innisfail-headquartered school system, says superintendent Kurt Sacher.

“We have extreme confidence in our teachers,” said Sacher. “We have a tremendously positive relationship with our teachers across the jurisdiction and we work hard at it and they work hard at it. We are very respectful of our teachers and the work they are doing in these times.

“We also have a very positive relationship with our Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) executive. We meet regularly with those folks so we feel very well connected within our jurisdiction with our over 600 teachers that are working in classrooms but also with the executive of the ATA local.”

Sacher’s comments come as the Kenney government and ATA are engaged in a bitter and ongoing dispute which heated up measurably last week.

On Dec. 9 Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced that she was bringing forward an order-in-council to immediately implement the provision in the Students First Act requiring the ATA to notify the registrar at Alberta Education of all complaints against ATA members when they are received.

“Currently the ATA is only required to notify Alberta Education at the end of their disciplinary process is a matter goes to a hearing, including cases where recommendations are made to the Minister to suspend or cancel a certificate,” said LaGrange.

She also announced that she has ordered legislation prepared that would separate the teacher disciplinary process from the ATA’s mandate and functions.

“It is now abundantly clear that the ATA can no longer act as the investigator and the prosecutor for complaints against its members,” she said. 

LaGrange says the ATA failed to notify police of complaints against a former Calgary Board of Education teacher accused of sexually abusing students between 1999 and 2005.

“Unfortunately, this episode clearly demonstrates that the ATA failed to protect students from a predatory teacher,” she said.

The former teacher, Michael Gregory, died in February 2021.

In response to LaGrange’s order-in-council announcement, the ATA says the government of Alberta failed to notify police when Gregory was convicted at an ATA hearing of unprofessional conduct.

ATA president Jason Schilling said LaGrange’s order-in-council is part of an attempt to split the ATA and to distract from Kenney government failings.

“If this minister follows through with her destructive plan to splinter the teaching profession, Alberta's public education system will crater,” said Schilling. “Debilitating funding cuts, a completely disastrous curriculum and a COVID-19 response that was completely negligent in protecting Alberta families have drive our education system to the point of crisis.”

Asked if he is confident with systems in place for dealing with complaints against teachers in the 11,000-student CESD, superintendent Sacher said: “On occasion we do get a concern expressed about the teaching performance of an individual; we have over 600 teachers so you would expect that. 

“We feel confident that in combination with our division office staff working with the local school administration and that teaching individual we resolve 99.9 per cent of our issues internally. We have processes in place that are very effective.”