News / Edmonton

Edmonton Catholic School Board elects new chair

Laura Thibert takes over, Marilyn Bergstra bumped to vice-chair.

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The Edmonton Catholic School Board has a new leader for the second year in a row after Trustee Laura Thibert was voted in as chair at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Ward 77 Trustee is serving her second term since being elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2013.

“I am excited and humbled to protect and promote Catholic education,” Thibert said, in a press release.

“I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to move the district forward and ensure all children live, learn and serve God in one another.”  

Thibert is taking over for the 2016-17 school year after Marilyn Bergstra served as chair last year. Previous to that, Trustee Debbie Engel led the board for several terms.

Bergstra, who moved to vice-chair Tuesday, presided over a tumultuous year that saw trustees embroiled in heated disagreements over gay-straight alliances and transgender rights.

Education Minister David Eggen hired consultant Don Cummings to monitor the board's conduct last October, after trustees broke down into shouting and tears during debates around policy to protect LGBTQ students.

Cummings’ report noted a high degree of “conflict and confusion” among trustees as well as an “inability of the board to engage itself in respectful dialogue and a professional level of discourse.”

The board has since hired another consultant to help rewrite its policies.

Trustees do not seem keen to shy away from controversy – the board passed a motion brought forward by Trustee Larry Kowalczyk Tuesday that condemns pornography and calls for television broadcasters like Shaw and Rogers to stop offering adult channels.

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