(OTTAWA, June 11, 2013)
Ottawa Catholic ratepayers achieved a stronger policy statement that "Catholic and social and moral teaching" will direct partnerships in the Ottawa Catholic board at a meeting of the board June 11. PAFE President said "This evening parents gained a policy that will help to ensure that board partnerships respect fundamental teachings of the Church on social and moral issues. We could have wished for clearer vetting procedures to ease the administrative process for everyone and to better reduce the possibility of problematic partner choices slipping through, but this policy is a step in the right direction."
Archbishop Prendergast reportedly recommended the language about choosing partners who respect "Catholic and social moral teachings" in a meeting with the Director of Education. Staff also reported that principals have already been informed of the importance of choosing partners that don't contravene Catholic teaching.
A few dozen hardy ratepayers were in the gallery along with Catholic journalist and author Deborah Gyapong. Parent Gillian Keenan gave a phenomenal speech thanking the committee for the improvements the policies offered but requesting a proper vetting procedure for administrators. PAFE representative, Bruce Clark, pressed the same point, making the argument that such procedures have been used elsewhere to prevent churches and schools from hosting well-known critics of church beliefs. Prior to the board meeting PAFE had also provided the board with a report containing statements testifying to the ease with which such a procedure could be implemented. He also asked for a clearer statement that those who have spoken out on contentious topics in the past not be allowed to speak in the schools, even on neutral topics. Three other parent delegates, including a retired police officer, pleaded eloquently with the board to amend the policies to include a vetting procedure.
Clark suggested amendments to the policies, but to the disbelief of onlookers, Trustees failed to engage them in any debate whatsoever. Questions from Trustees were directed mainly to staff about the resources they had drawn on in writing their policies. Trustee Butler asked whether there are existing vetting procedures for speakers. Staff said yes, but they don't contain any mention of fidelity to the faith. Trustee Butler asked Clark whether he didn't think that you could gain something valuable from hearing anyone speak. Clark spoke for the majority of the onlookers present when he disagreed in the case of children, saying that "some things are just morally evil. Is it wise to bring them into the schools?" He also spoke of the danger of appearing to lend moral support to politicians who have been openly hostile to church teachings.
Read the new policies here
June 10, 2013
The board released two new policies on field trips and partnerships today. You can read a side-by-side comparison of the new and revised policies here.
PAFE appreciates the way the new policies remind administrators to orient field trips to enrich student faith. Fidelity to the Catholic faith is reinforced in the two policies in several ways.
Here's what's new in the Field Trips policy:
Here's what's new in the policy on Partnerships, Sponsorships, and Donations:
PAFE is pleased that the board revised its policy to say Catholic "social and moral" teaching will direct partnerships and sponsorships. It was also encouraging to see a prohibition in the administrative procedures that "influences contrary to Catholic social and moral teaching" are to be avoided in corporate partnerships. It's unfortunate that the stronger prohibitive language here is not extended to all the other types of partnerships.
While this is a fantastic start, crucial accountability elements are missing. Outlining goals without giving administrators tools to achieve them will not accomplish the desired outcome. Especially important are that the policy doesn't advise a way of doing due diligence on partners, and it doesn't give criteria for choosing partners that will strengthen the Catholic aspect of the schools.
Please call your Trustee and request that they support the following amendments to the policy on :
June 7, 2013
The partnership policy will not be available online until Monday, June 10. Please direct complaints about the lack of transparency on this policy by calling the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mark Mullan, and Director, Julian Hanlon. Releasing a major policy such as this one day before a Trustee vote gives the public almost no opportunity for input!
Chair, Mark Mullan, at 613-841-4836.
Director, Julian Hanlon, at 613 224 4455
Please also call your own Trustee and give them the same message.
The proper way for policy to begin is with a motion from the Trustee. That way the content of what is being proposed is known from the beginning of the process. In the case now the policy did not begin with a Trustee motion. It was written out of sight of the public, and it was not taken to public consultation allowing a reasonable length of time for the public to deliver feedback.
Find your Trustee here
Here are the board regulations about public consultation:
POLICY: Public Consultation
SECTION A: Board Policies
Date Approved: August 28, 2001 Dates of Amendment:
1. In respecting its mission statement, the Board shall conduct appropriate public consultation to ensure that its decisions reflect the values contained therein.
2. The Board shall consult with its public on matters related to school consolidation, major policy reviews and other such matters as may be determined by Board motion.
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES :
1. The Director of Education/designate will enact the provisions of the administrative procedures related to the public consultation process.
2. All public consultations will include:
a) a description of stakeholders to be consulted;
b) a description of consultation methodology;
c) timelines which are consistent and respectful of the school year calendar;
d) communication strategies.
3. All reports emanating from the public consultation process will contain a summary of the process and a summary of public input, with a description of any steps taken to address public concerns in arriving at any recommendation.
PARENTS DISMAYED BY PARTNERSHIP SCANDALS
TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2013
Over a hundred parents packed the Ottawa Catholic Board Office tonight to demand recognition of a pattern of approving partner groups actively hostile toward basic teachings of the Catholic faith. Sun News host Brian Lilley conveyed his frustration at the board's unwillingness to admit negligence regarding its approval of a planned trip to assist pro-abortion politician Barack Obama's campaign in Ohio. He noted that the repeated incidents were damaging parental confidence in the board's accountability and its transparency with its information. Parents As First Educators suggested that a committee be struck to examine the board's policy on partnerships and outlined weaknesses that need to be fixed, such as the lack of a vetting process for speakers. A diocesan priest requested that the policy be strengthened.
One ratepayer, Terry Tate, was further discouraged to discover on site that, despite a week of negotiations with board staff to assure her son, a high-school student in the board, would be allowed to speak, the chair of the board denied him his speech on grounds that he was not a ratepayer. Apparently the delegation policy could use some work as well.
Trustees gave the speakers a chilly reception and when asked by Brian Lilley for formal acknowledgment of the speakers' remarks, remained silent. PAFE hopes that the lesson that the taxpayers who pay their bills deserve good accounting from their elected representatives was conveyed and that the board's response to the parental requests will be made public soon.
The full text of the PAFE presentation is available here.
January 7, PAFE post on principal's implausible deniability
January 8, Brian Lilley's blog at Lilley's Pad
Teresa Pierre on CFRA News Talk Radio, The Lowell Green Show. Note that the comments take place at the 27 min. mark.
Three local Ottawa highschools (Holy Trinity, St. Francis Xavier and St. Joseph's HS) will be taking some of their students to El Salvador from Feb 11-19th, 2013. The trip's itinerary for the first two highschools can be found on page 55 here, and St. Joseph's can be found on page 54 here.
Our students will be meeting with the following three NGO's during their trip,
1. Concertation de Mujeres (Holy Trinity, St. Francis Xavier)
2. CRIPDES (All three schools)
3. Equipo Maize (All three schools)
Each of these groups advocate for positions that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Faith.
Concertation de Mujeres
Concertation de Mujeres is a member of a feminist coalition called Concertacion Feminista Prudencia Ayala, which published a document titled, "Feminist Platform 2009-2014", that lays out their beliefs and political demands.
The document can be found here. The document is in Spanish but can be translated easily using translate.google.com. Once there, click on the words "translate a document" below the box on the left side. Then you click on the "Choose File" button. Once the file is chosen, google will begin the process of translating the entire document for you. If you have any problems, please contact us and we would be happy to walk you through it.
As a start, you can confirm that the NGO the students will be visiting (Concertation de Mujeres) is a co-signatory of this document by going to the last page (of the Spanish version) where they are the 12th group listed.
The following are a list of quotes from the document:
Legally guarantee safe conditions to perform voluntary interruptions of pregnancy without any risks to the health and life of the woman; decriminalize abortion and legalize therapeutic abortion.
Investigate the side effects of contraceptive methods and promote the distribution of reliable ones, fostering the use of condoms as the only method that does not negatively influence the health of women and oblige the co-responsibility of men and women in sexual intercourse.
Recognition of Sexual work as such, and its inclusion in the Labour Code as any other type of work.
Reform the Family Code to recognize diverse types of families , including lesbian families, and equality of rights between heterosexual and lesbian couples, be they married or life-long companions.
CRIPDES promotes contraception. You can read a report about their support for contraception by reading page 4 of adocument they put out in 2010. The relevant excerpt has been pasted below,
Towards the end of the workshop, a represenative from Las Melidas made a presentation on family planning and birth control, talking about the different kinds of birth control that exist and emphasizing that the rhythm method is not reliable. Older women expressed the desire to have wanted to know this information earlier, to have avoided so many pregnancies. The young women present were very interested in the issue and paid close attention,and they were congratulated for wanting to put these methods into practice.
Equipo Maize focuses a portion of its resources on producing sexual education material for children. Reading their website makes it fairly clear they don't promote a Catholic view of sexuality. For those that would like to read the relevant webpages, please do the following:
1. Go to http://itools.com/tool/google-translate-web-page-translator
2. Type in either of these web addresses for translation:
Should Catholic schools be facilitating meetings between our children and groups that advocate for positions contrary to the teachings of our faith? Absolutely not. Parents know this, as should those entrusted with our children's care.
We urge all parents and Catholic ratepayers to contact the respective principals and trustees to firmly request that our children not meet with these problematic groups.
St. Joseph's Highschool
Sue Arbour, Principal, email: Joseph.High@ocsb.ca
Alison Baizana, Trustee, email: Alison.Baizana@ocsb.ca
Holy Trinity Highschool
Jennifer Oake, Principal, email: HolyTrinity.High@ocsb.ca
Ted Hurley, Trustee, email: Ted.Hurley@ocsb.ca
St. Francis Xavier Highschool
Michael Curry, Principal, email: FrancisXavier.High@ocsb.ca
Alison Baizana, Trustee, email: Alison.Baizana@ocsb.ca
Director of Education, Julian Hanlon, email: Director@ocsb.ca