Alberta home-schooling group fires back at government report
Allegations are 'misleading' and some 'outright false,' says home-schooling organization
A home-schooling organization that's been effectively shuttered by Alberta Education for alleged financial misdealings and lack of oversight has fired back with more claims the government was wrong.
Wisdom Home Schooling posted a message on its website Saturday, refuting government allegations that were made public last week.
The group said it had not been shown the report before Oct. 25, when Education Minister David Eggen went public with his decision to close the private Trinity Christian School Association. The school association had contracted Wisdom on a third-party basis to deliver its home-schooling services.
"Alberta Education has not provided Wisdom or Trinity with any opportunity to know or defend itself against the misleading — and in some cases outright false — accusations in the government's report," the latest statement says.
Trinity Christian School Association had just 13 students in its bricks-and-mortar school in Cold Lake. But in addition, there was enrolment of 3,500 home-schooled students across the province. That's almost a third of home-schooled children in Alberta.
Through its association with Trinity, Wisdom received millions of dollars per year to organize home-schooling.
Wisdom's point-by-point rebuttal to government allegations include:
- The government alleges that Wisdom was paying 10 times the market rate to lease an office space on a farm owned by the family that heads Wisdom. In its statement, Wisdom said the office was built and upgraded for home education administration and that the rate includes "utilities, snow removal, emergency power plant for backup during outages, a comprehensive camera and motion security system and day and night premises supervision."
- In response to an allegation of double-dipping, Wisdom said: "one person mistakenly claimed mileage reimbursement while also receiving a car allowance" and it was a "singular error."
- Wisdom says allegations about "lack of adequate oversight" are "based on the false assumption that Trinity was not entitled to contract with Wisdom to provide home-schooling services."
This is the third time that Wisdom has released public statements about the controversy. In the first statement, Wisdom encouraged parents not to enrol their children in a new school board as requested by Alberta Education, and advised it would be seeking legal counsel to contest the removal of accreditation.
Response to Eggen's decision has been mixed. There is anger from home-schooling parents who say they've been left in a lurch, while some critics say the move was an ideological attack on private, Christian education. But one Wisdom graduate was critical of the organization, saying her courses weren't even recognized by the universities that she wanted to attend.
While several financial questions have been raised, Alberta Education has said its decision was made because Trinity "has failed to appropriately supervise its home education program." In a statement, Wisdom also denied this claim and said Alberta Education mandated the establishment of Wisdom in 1997.