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Catholic school board releases censure reasons for Nazi, Pride post

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board said it “does not accept the trustee’s submission that the meme was clearly unrelated to Nazism"
Trustee Monique LaGrange. File photo

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) board of trustees has released its reasons for imposing sanctions on a trustee who made a social media post that compared the Pride movement to Nazism.

In a 15-page release issued Oct. 16, following an Oct. 13 in-camera special board meeting, the board outlined its reasoning for censuring trustee Monique LaGrange.

In late August, trustee 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.”

The posting has been widely condemned, including by the Alberta Teachers' Association, the Alberta Catholic Trustees' Association, and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

LaGrange has not responded to Albertan requests for comment.

The 10,400-student RDCRS division includes schools in Innisfail and Olds.

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

The motion came following in-camera special board meetings on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 which were attended by LaGrange, other trustees, administration, and legal counsel.

The motion also calls on LaGrange to, among other things, issue a public letter of apology to the school division students, staff and board in relation to the posting, with the letter having to “recognize the inappropriateness of the trustee’s actions and that the trustee is deeply sorry for having offended anyone through her actions.”

LaGrange can still attend and participate in RDCRS board meetings.

The Sept. 26 motion did not outline the reasons for censuring LaGrange. It did state that the board would provide written reasons in support of the motion to LaGrange within 20 days.

In the release issued on Oct. 16, the board outlined its reasons for imposing the sanctions, saying LaGrange’s legal counsel had requested that the reasons be released publicly.

The board specifically stated that by making the post LaGrange breached clauses of board policies and clauses of the Code of Conduct.

Under clause 6.2 of board policy 3, trustees are required to refer queries or issues and problems not covered by board policy to the board for corporate discussion and decision.

“According to the trustee, the meme post was not about people or individuals, rather, it was about ideas which must always be open to criticism and must be tested and challenged,” the board said.

“If the trustee were of the view there were ideas that had to be tested or challenged, clause 6.2 of board policy 3 required the trustee to refer the same to the board for corporate discussion. This was not done. Rather the trustees took it upon herself to post the meme.

“In having posted the meme, the trustee breached clause 6.2 of board policy 3 and thus is in breach of clause 1 of the Code of Conduct.”

The board said LaGrange violated clauses 6 and 22 of the Code of Conduct.

Clause 6 requires board trustees to “commit themselves to dignified, ethical, professional and lawful conduct”, while clause 22 requires trustees to represent the “board responsibly in all board-related matters with proper decorum and respect for others.”

The board said it “does not accept the trustee’s submission that the meme was clearly unrelated to Nazism. Regardless of the trustee’s intent, in the board’s view, a reasonable person viewing two photographs (one over the other) could reasonably conclude that a negative comparison was being made.

“Further, the complex and nuanced position which the trustee is attempting to advance is simply not made clear in the meme which is limited to two photographs and three words. The trustee had an obligation to ensure her communication was in accordance with board policy.

“By posting the meme the trustee violated clauses 6 and 22 of the Code of Conduct.”

The board said LaGrange violated clause 6.4 of board policy 3 which states that trustees “will be cognizant that they are representing the interests of the board while posting or commenting on social media, and aware of public perception that their posts, comments and social media engagement, are in accordance with their duties within the school division.”

The board said “at the time this trustee posted the meme post, she did not consider the interests of the board, nor did she give consideration to the potential public perception of the same. Again, therefore the trustee placed her personal interests ahead of her public duty to carry out and advance board work.”

Under the Sept. 26 motion censuring LaGrange, the board chair and superintendent of Schools “may take those steps necessary to implement the terms and conditions” set out in the motion.

The Pride movement promotes and protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and others. 

The Nazi regime was responsible for tens of millions of deaths, including many thousands of individuals specifically targeted for being homosexual.



Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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