Posted on Sep 15, 2020
NDP CALLS ON EDUCATION MINISTER’S OFFICE TO RELEASE HIDDEN RECORDS ON COVID-19 RESPONSE IN SCHOOLS
EDMONTON - The NDP Official Opposition is calling on Minister Adriana LaGrange and her office to publicly release documents about the COVID-19 response in Alberta schools after a series of Freedom of Information Act requests turned up no records.
“We know that this Minister has received correspondence from teachers, school boards, superintendents and others on re-entry to schools. The fact that her office is claiming that none of these records exist means that she is deliberately hiding records from the people of this province,” said NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman. “Fears are rising as we see more cases of COVID-19 linked to Alberta schools and the Minister must come clean and release these documents.”
The Official Opposition received responses to Freedom of Information Act requests from the Office of the Minister of Education showing no records found for the following:
- All correspondence, letters and emails sent to the Office of the Minister from school boards and superintendents about the Government of Alberta’s K-12 school re-entry plan. For the date range of May 1, 2020 - July 27, 2020.
- Emails sent by the Press Secretary, Chief of Staff, Ministerial Assistant, Minister, Deputy Minister and Chief of Staff to the Deputy Minister, mentioning reporters from CBC, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald and CTV relating to COVID-19 School re-entry. For the date range of June 1, 2020 - July 10, 2020.
- All communications and emails within the Office of the Minister discussing messages, emails, and letters received from school boards, superintendents and those identifying as teachers about the Government’s K-12 School Re-Entry Plan. For the date range of May 1, 2020 - July 27, 2020.
The NDP Official Opposition has been copied on some emails to Minister LaGrange within the specified timelines that the minister’s office now claims don’t exist.
“What is this Government trying to hide from Albertans?” Hoffman questioned. “The Minister needs to immediately release all records from her office related to the school relaunch so that students, staff, families and communities can evaluate whether the plan is actually working.”
During the timeframe of the FOIPs, LaGrange claimed to be “seeking input from school authorities and education partners” on the school reopening plan. This input or information should have been captured by the request for information. None of the response letters invoked the exemptions to disclosure described in the Freedom of Information Act.
“During times as serious as these, with parents and staff concerned about the safety in our schools, Albertans deserve no less than the highest level of transparency,” continued Hoffman. “Minister LaGrange needs to stop hiding from the public, answer these questions and release all these documents.”