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Former Catholic school trustee appeals disqualification over actions after Nazi, Pride post

Monique LaGrange wants court to order that she be reinstated to Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board of trustees
Former Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board trustee Monique LaGrange. File photo

Former Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) first-term trustee Monique Lagrange has filed a court appeal of her November disqualification related to a controversial social media post, according to her lawyer.

James Kitchen says the appeal has been filed with the Court of King’s Bench, with his client maintaining that her disqualification should be set aside.

“I do think the decisions are unlawful or unreasonable and therefore should be overturned by the court,” Kitchen told the Albertan. “In September we had the first board motion to sanction her, to discipline her, and then in November we had another decision and at that time the discipline was disqualification. 

“So we have two decisions by the board and we have two judicial reviews. Obviously I want them heard together, I want them joined but you can’t judicially review both decisions at the same judicial review application, so have to file two separate applications.”

In August, LaGrange posted on her personal Facebook account two photographs, one an historical photograph of a group of children holding Nazi flags with swastikas and one a contemporary photograph of children holding rainbow Pride flags. The meme post included a caption stating: “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”

On Sept. 26, the RDCRS board passed a motion imposing sanctions on LaGrange, saying she was “censured from being part of all and any of board committees and is censured from attending and participating is all board committees.”

In November, LaGrange’s fellow trustees passed a motion disqualifying her from continuing to hold her elected position.

In a release issued at the time, the board said she was disqualified due to “violating sanctions issued on September 26, 2023 and further violations of board policy and the Education Act.”

Specifically, the board said LaGrange made a social media post and gave interviews that violated sanctions imposed by the board.

“As a result, Trustee LaGrange is hereby disqualified under section 87(1)(c) of the Education Act and Board Policy from remaining as a school board trustee.”

Kitchen says his client maintains that she should never have been disqualified.

“The board says Monique has violated a whole long list of (code of conduct) provisions,” he said. “In reality, she hasn’t violated most of those provisions; they just simply don’t apply to her situations. The board has sort of manipulated and twisted these sections to try to make them apply to what Monique has done. 

“Ultimately the problem here is Monique has said something that they just really don’t like and they want to shut her up for it. They want to penalize her for it and so they are grasping at whatever they can get to make it happen. They sort of took a shotgun, a scattergun approach to this.”

Asked about what he would ultimately like to see happen with the judicial reviews, he said, “We want the decisions overturned in whole, and if not in whole then in part, and we want the court to then order that she be reinstated, that the discipline of disqualification was disproportionate.”

As far as a possible timeline for the court to hear the applications, he said, “That depends on the availability of judges in Red Deer, which I really don’t know. A judicial review is supposed to be heard at a full-day hearing, something we call a special. I wouldn’t expect to get a full day special until at least half way through 2024.”

RDCRS superintendent Kathleen Finnigan did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the filing of the judicial review application.

The 10,650-student RDCRS division includes schools in Innisfail and Olds.

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