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Joint statement on Ministerial Order regarding seclusion rooms

Fri, 23 Aug, 2019

News item: Joint statement on seclusion rooms

On Thursday, Aug. 22 the board chairs and superintendents of the Calgary Board of Education, Calgary Catholic School District, Edmonton Catholic Schools and Edmonton Public Schools met with Education Minister Adriana LaGrange to discuss the Alberta Government's ban on seclusion rooms (Ministerial Order 006/2019).

Our four school districts serve student populations with a variety of diverse and complex needs. Our priority is to provide safe, caring and inclusive learning environments for all students and staff.

We believe there are circumstances where the use of seclusion/calming rooms is appropriate. We recognize that their use comes with the responsibility for school authorities to have clearly articulated policies and expectations related to the establishment, oversight and use of these spaces. Our districts have specialized programs where staff are trained extensively and develop plans, working together with families, around how to support students who may exhibit unsafe behaviours that could cause harm to themselves, other students and staff.

Our school districts strongly support inclusion in our classrooms; our professional educators work hard to build classrooms that respect the needs of all students. A ban on the use of seclusion rooms limits how school authorities can address exceptional cases and still ensure the safety of all students and staff in a school community. These concerns have also been raised by teachers who work with students with significant complex learning needs, as well as parents of these students.

For these reasons, we request that the Minister of Education reconsider the Ministerial Order prior to Sept. 1, 2019. We are willing to work with Alberta Education regarding best practices related to seclusion rooms to provide clarity and certainty for our students, staff and families for this school year.

Marilyn Dennis, Board Chair, Calgary Board of Education

Mary Martin, Board Chair, Calgary Catholic School District

Trisha Estabrooks, Board Chair, Edmonton Public Schools

Laura Thibert, Board Chair, Edmonton Catholic Schools