Morinville parents are frustrated that Alberta's education minister won't intervene and force the publicly funded school board to give their children access to a non-Catholic education.

"I'm really frustrated, extremely frustrated," Donna Hunter said at the Alberta legislature Wednesday afternoon, in reaction to Education Minister Dave Hancock's meeting with the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional School Division.

The publicly funded board runs all four schools in Morinville: two for elementary grade students and a junior and senior high school. 

Hunter and other parents want the district to offer a non-faith-based program. Earlier this year board members unanimously rejected their request.

Hunter was hoping that Hancock, as the education minister, could overturn the decision and force the board to offer a program. But Hancock said he wouldn't do that. Instead, he wants the parents to go back to the board.

"I think that needs to be a real discussion with the people involved," he said. "It's not really in my hand to mandate that."

That isn't acceptable, Hunter said.

"Him coming out and saying nothing and saying go back and talk to your school board? 'I've kind of pushed them in the right direction and maybe they'll give you an option this time you're satisfied with' ... No I'm not satisfied with that. How can I be satisfied with that?" she asked.

The province's solution of busing the children to a school in another district is not a solution, Marjorie Kirsop said.

"Considering Morinville is a town of 8,000 [and] we have four public schools, why should our kids be put on a bus, driven 40 minutes away with high school kids to attend a school in another district?" she  asked.

"We have four public schools. Why not give one school to hand it over to Sturgeon [School Division]. Let them run the secular program."

Hunter's daughter is now in kindergarten. Next year, she can have her daughter opt out of religious classes when they are offered, as long as she signs a form acknowledging that Catholic teachings will permeate the rest of the school day, an option she doesn't believe is acceptable.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated Donna Hunter and the other Morinville parents met with Education Minister Dave Hancock at the Alberta legislature on Wednesday. In fact, Hancock met with board members from the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional School Division.
    Mar 25, 2011 2:48 AM MT