Bill 24 and Bill 28 Receive Royal Assent
Monday, December 18, 2017
Posted by: Susan Lang
Bill 24: An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances and
Bill 28: School Amendment Act, 2017
received Royal Assent on December 15, 2017.
For Bill 28: School Amendment Act, most provisions come into force upon Royal Assent. The exceptions are amendments respecting:
- the establishment of separate school districts, which come into effect on September 1, 2018;
- implementation of the new professional practice standards, which come into effect September 1, 2019;
- establishing a common age of entry, which come into effect for the 2020/21 school year;
- rules and regulations on student transportation, which will come into effect for the 2018/19 school year; and
- the requirement for a Code of Conduct to be in place for all school board trustees, which will come into force on September 1, 2018.
Work on the development of regulations to support the provisions of the School Amendment Act is underway, and I look forward to continuing conversations about that work in the coming months.
I would like to take this opportunity to share additional information about the legislative changes to Bill 24 and when these amendments will come into force. The following is a summary of the legislative changes that have been made. The attached document provides a more detailed overview of the amendments contained in Bill 24.
Amendments Coming into Force Immediately
The amendments relating to protecting the privacy of students and clarifying practices for the establishment of student organizations come into force upon Royal Assent to help ensure students receive additional support for student organizations right away.
Key changes that come into force immediately include the following:
These changes apply to all public, separate, Francophone, charter and private school operators. Private school operators will continue to be subject to requirements of Section 16.1 of the School Act regarding support for student organizations, should students request the establishment of a GSA or QSA.
- Clarification in Section 50.1 of the School Act that parental notification around courses of study does not apply to student participation in clubs, including GSAs and QSAs. Requirements for notice to parents remain in place where courses of study, educational programs or instructional materials, or instruction or exercises, include subject matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion or human sexuality.
- Clarification that if a school wishes to send a notification related to a student organization, the principal is responsible for ensuring that it is limited to the fact that the organization is being established or holding an activity.
- Clarification in Section 20 of the School Act of the role of school authorities and principals in supporting students who want to create a GSA or QSA. This includes confirmation of the responsibility of a principal to provide a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging.
- Clarification of the timelines principals are expected to follow to help students create GSAs and QSAs.
- Confirmation that students have the right to name a student organization a GSA/QSA.
- Confirmation that the Minister of Education can initiate an investigation or inquiry if a school authority does not comply with these sections of the School Act.
Amendments Coming into Force on April 1, 2018
Requirements for all publicly funded school authorities to create welcoming, caring and respectful policies as well as provisions that strengthen the Minister’s ability to ensure every school authority complies with the law will come into force on April 1, 2018. This will ensure that school authorities are given sufficient time to review and revise their policies to align with these legislative changes.
Key changes that come into force on April 1, 2018 include the following:
- All school authorities, including accredited private schools, unless exempted, are required to have policies that meet legislated requirements.
- Ensuring that policies established under Section 45.1 affirm the rights of students and staff as provided for in the Alberta Human Rights Act and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Specifying the elements that must be included in all policies.
- Providing the Minister of Education the authority to require school authorities to adopt policy elements, policies or codes of conduct.
- Clarification that the Minister of Education can initiate an investigation or inquiry if a school authority does not comply with this section of the School Act.
School authorities have until June 30, 2018 to make their policies available in a prominent location on a publicly accessible website maintained by or on behalf of the school authority.
These changes apply to all public, separate, Francophone, charter and accredited private school operators, unless exempted.
As previously stated, I will not be asking school authorities to submit their new or revised policies to Alberta Education at this time. Alberta Education staff will be available to work with school authorities as necessary and assist them with ensuring their policies and practices meet the minimum requirements of the legislation. These amendments also emphasize the importance for school authorities to understand their obligations under existing privacy legislation. I encourage public school authorities to work with their Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) co-ordinators, while private schools can liaise with the Association of Independent Schools and Colleges in Alberta (AISCA). Additional information to support the implementation of the amendments will be made available on the Alberta Education website
If you have any questions or require further information, please contact Paul Lamoureux, Executive Director, Field Services, Alberta Education, at 780-427-6272 or SafeCaring@gov.ab.ca
Our government’s main priority is to ensure students have safe and caring schools. I look forward to building on the great work of school authorities to ensure that students are protected.