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Media interview led to trustee's dismissal from Red Deer school board: lawyer

The lawyer for a school trustee who was kicked off a Red Deer school board on Tuesday says an interview with media led to her dismissal.

James Kitchen told CTV News Edmonton on Wednesday that the board for Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools disqualified Monique LaGrange, who due to legislation subsequently resigned from her post as trustee, because she had given an interview and had discussed gender ideology.

"They think we did something wrong," Kitchen said, adding LaGrange didn't claim to represent the school board in the interview. "We don't think we did. We're not sorry."

The board sanctioned LaGrange on Sept. 26 in reaction to a meme she posted to social media in August comparing the LGBTQ2S+ community to Nazi Germany. The Aug. 27 post — widely criticized by groups including parents, students, LGBTQ2S+ entities, the Alberta Teachers Association and some Alberta government figures but also supported by others — showed a picture of children waving swastika flags above a picture of children waving Pride flags with the caption "brainwashing is brainwashing."

Trustees in September found LaGrange violated a code of conduct and the Alberta Education Act but allowed her to stay on the board under certain conditions.

In October, the board concluded that LaGrange violated its policies and ordered her to issue a sincere apology, take sensitivity training and recognize that her post "hurt feelings."

Chair Murray Hollman said the board spent Monday and a part of Tuesday discussing and debating whether or not to disqualify LaGrange — "It's a big deal to remove an elected official," he said — and that they moved forward to dismiss her to "foster safe learning environments" in their schools.

"We felt Monique LaGrange, at the time, had further breached our policies and the sanctions, so she was not following what we had laid out to move forward where she could be part of our board," Hollman told CTV News.

Kitchen said his office will apply for a judicial review on behalf of LaGrange to try to have the decision overturned even though the process will take long enough that, by the time there is a decision, it'll be close to an election.

"She's viewed as someone who's done something wrong, so if their decision is unlawful, then the court's going to overturn it, and that's going to vindicate her as having done nothing wrong," Kitchen said. "So there's value right there."

Hollman said the board will provide details about their reasons for disqualifying LaGrange by the end of next week.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Weisberg Top Stories

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