Province announces new oversights for independent schools

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The Government of Saskatchewan announced Thursday that they are strengthening oversight of all registered independent schools in the province through amendments to The Registered Independent Schools Regulations and The Education Funding Regulations, 2018.

Independent schools are part of a lawsuit filed by former students of Legacy Christian Academy in Saskatoon.

Starting in fall 2023, new requirements for independent schools will include mandatory administrative policies, similar to the requirements for Saskatchewan school divisions. Examples of administrative policies include an attendance policy, an extracurricular policy and a parent complaints and grievances policy.

“Our government is committed to ensuring that students in all of Saskatchewan’s schools feel safe, protected and respected,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a release.

“While we believe registered independent schools have a place in our education sector by giving parents the choice to educate their children in accordance with their conscientious beliefs, these additional regulations will ensure that the necessary government oversight is in place.”

Additional changes include enhanced financial reporting requirements and for all registered independent schools to have a defined separation of duties among its board, director and principal. Beginning in the 2024-25 school year, all qualified independent schools and certified independent schools must be registered as a separate non-profit organization from any parent organization.

Other steps the Government of Saskatchewan has taken to ensure child safety in Saskatchewan schools, include appointing administrators to oversee schools, increased supervisory visits to all qualified independent schools, and the ability to put schools on probation. Independent schools are also now required to notify the ministry within 24 hours if there are allegations of criminal activity or a criminal charge of a staff member and fully cooperating with the Advocate for Children and Youth in its investigation into the oversight of independent schools in Saskatchewan.

The new regulatory amendments will be available in both French and English on the Ministry of Education website in the coming weeks. All qualified independent schools and certified independent schools will be required to adopt them over the coming calendar year and be in effect by the start of the Fall 2023 school year.

In 2012, the province began providing funding to Qualified Independent Schools who meet the standards and criteria outlined in provincial regulations.

Regent Academy and Elevation Academy, both in Prince Albert, are members of the Saskatchewan Association of Independent Church Schools (SAICS). As of January 2019, SAICS has eight member schools, all of which use an individualized, multi-grade system of learning. The other SAICS members are Almond Tree Christian Academy in Canora, Grace Christian School in Saskatoon, Legacy Christian Academy in Saskatoon, LifeWay Christian Academy in Saskatoon, Morning Star Christian Academy in Regina, Prairie Christian Academy in Saskatoon and Northeast Christian Academy in Melfort.

An Administrator was appointed for the 2022-2023 school year for Regent along with Legacy Christian Academy and Grace Christian School, both located in Saskatoon.

“Regent Academy is a partnership between parents and the faculty,” the school’s website reads. “In order for the students to thrive without distraction, we emphasize good communication between teachers and parents, mutual respect, and skillful conflict resolution.

“Our goal is to develop the next generation of leaders so that a Christian legacy can be firmly established for future generations.”

The school’s website includes an anti-bullying policy which says Regent “does not tolerate negative actions that may cause emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm.”