By Nikki Jamieson
A week ago, news broke from Global News about another reason why the Warner Hockey School closed its doors for the 2016/17 school year, and it was not because of lack of funds.
The article contained allegations from a parent group about events that had occurred during the last school year at the school. The group alleges that HSD board trustee for the Warner area, Derek Baron, made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to the female coaches and students at Warner Hockey School, along with poor educational delivery for the students of the hockey school.
In a notice on its website, date July 28, The Warner Hockey School announced that it would not be fielding a team for the upcoming school year, stating that they were “currently regrouping” and were accepting applications for the 2017/18 school year.
In an Oct. 5 Global News article, the hockey school had blamed the economic recession as why they could not get enough students to fill a team. According to correspondence in agenda packages from February, September, October and November meetings of the HSB, Warner Hockey School had stressed that the hockey school was not shutting down, but was in the “process of restructuring (February meeting),” potentially making the all-girl hockey school program into one for both guys and girls (September meeting), request from the school to meet with the board (October meeting) and transitioning from a girl’s hockey program to a boys hockey program — to be approved by Hockey Alberta (November meeting).
However, the Global News article released last week revealed information that all eligible students that had previously attended the school last year had instead chosen to attend other hockey schools. It also said the parent group is seeking legal advice against the Horizon School Division, because of the alleged events that had transpired at the school.
Currently, Baron is barred from contacting or having any communication with the Warner Hockey School and residence, due to a March 16 special board meeting, in which the board had voted to “approve the motion that Trustee Derek Baron cease from having contact/communication with the Warner Hockey School and Warner Hockey Residence until the end of his term, ending October 2017 due to breach of Policy BBF School Board Member Ethics and Code of Conduct,” carried unanimously.
“When the Board of Trustees receives a complaint about one of its trustees that causes concern, we move immediately to fully review the circumstances and seek advice as necessary,” said Marie Logan, Horizon board chair, in an e-mail response to The Times. “Individual members of the board of trustees actions are considered in light of the standards we as members of the Board of Trustees have set for ourselves as provided for in Policy BBF: School Board Member Ethics and Code of Conduct.
“Out of respect for all concerned, I am unable to provide any further details.”
According to the policy, section four states that, “The Board and its member’s conduct will contribute to a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging”, and section six states that, “Members will exercise prudent personal discipline in the performance of their duties, including proper use of authority and appropriate decorum when acting as Board members.”
If a trustee’s behaviour is found inconsistent with the code of conduct, they may be subject to disciplinary action, in which the board may “censure” a trustee, provided all board members, except for the offending member, vote unanimously to do so. This may include;
“i) Conversation in a private setting between the offending member and the Board Chair or other individual member;
ii) Discussion in a private session between the offending member and the Board;
iii) Possible removal by the Board from any leadership or committee positions to which the offending member has been appointed or elected;
iv) Censure of the offending member of the Board as a means of separating the Board’s focus and intent from that of the offending member;
v) Disqualification from remaining as a trustee of the board if that person has breached the code of conduct of the board where the sanction for the breach under the code of conduct may be determined by the board to be disqualification.”
The Warner School principal, Dave LeGrandleur, and HSB superintendent Wilco Tymensen declined to comment. Requests to Warner Hockey School head coach and director Bruce Bell and to Baron for comment went unanswered as of press time.
The Warner Hockey School was founded in 2003 as an elite, female hockey program for players 14-19, and plays in the Canadian Sports School League.
It is a globally recognized program with alumni going on to play in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) divisions I and III and the Canadian National Program.