News / Calgary

Jack James High School students plan peaceful protest of administration

Concerned Jack James students claim mistreatment by administration has led to the protest

Students will be gathering Monday at Jack James High School to protest what they’re calling ongoing breach of respect and civil rights of students.

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Students will be gathering Monday at Jack James High School to protest what they’re calling ongoing breach of respect and civil rights of students.

The students of Jack James High School will be invoking their right to peacefully assemble Monday in protest to what they’re calling “ongoing breaches of respect, basic human and civil rights and freedoms of the students.”

Caitlin Krause, a Grade 12 student at Jack James, said the catalyst for the protest was a fight that took place at Forest Lawn High School the first week of school, resulting in multiple suspensions and one expulsion. The students believe this was unfair, as many of those suspended were bystanders. 

But, Krause said that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, and that students have had ongoing issues with school administration.

“The school administration isn’t handling the situation well at all,” she said. 

Although Krause said she didn't organize the protest and heard about it from other students, she outlined several other issues similar to those sent to Metro in a letter from “concerned students.”

Students said issues included degrading comments from administration , enforcing a dress code not in the handbook, unjust punishments and denying students the opportunity to speak in their defense—to name a few. 

Metro asked to speak directly with a Calgary Board of Education representative and was instead sent an emailed statement, stating they were aware of the situation and that the school had been working with parents and students.

“However, this is a matter related to disciplinary actions,” said the CBE. “To protect student privacy, we will not be providing comment on any of the specific individuals involved or any actions.”

Kaitlin Bruce, one student involved in the fight who was later suspended, said she’s one student who wasn’t able to tell her side of the story, and said administration shut her down when she tried.

“My suspension was fair because I was involved in the fight, “ she said. “But, when I tried to explain my side of the story I was told not to say anything at all because it would just make my punishment worse.”

Shannon Pedlar, Krause’s mother, said she’s proud of how the students are peacefully protesting. She said following the fight in early September she witnessed some “inappropriate” behaviour by one school administrator in speaking with a student, proving to her the student concerns weren’t unfounded.

But, Pedlar said she hopes these issues are resolved quickly. 

“I’d like them to be able to focus on their studies and not random chaos, “ she said. “They need to get control over this. There’s not a lot of learning going on at Jack James right now.”

The CBE said if students and their families have concerns about disciplinary actions or issues at their school, the CBE has a formal concerns and complaints process accessible online.