LETHBRIDGE – More than two dozen people, including former Palliser staff members and concerned parents, came to the Palliser Regional School Board meeting on Tuesday to demand immediate action.
Last month an online petition, started by a group calling itself ‘Concerned Parents of Palliser Schools’, asked for an investigation and independent review into the school system after allegations of a “culture of fear” and alleged abusive behavior by Superintendent Kevin Gietz.
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“There are children being taught by people not being honest,” said Natasha Richards, student council representative at Jenny Emery school in Coaldale. “As parents we are frustrated because – what type of leadership do we want for our children?”
“The allegations are very concerning as a parent,” said Kelly Mcleod, student council representative from Dorothy Dalgliesh School in Picture Butte. “We teach our kids not to be bullies and this sends a message to the top down that if it’s condoned by adults. I don’t think it’s acceptable.”
Palliser Regional Schools and Gietz have denied the allegations, claiming they “are entirely without merit.”
READ MORE: Online petition calls for immediate suspension of Palliser Regional Schools superintendent
The board originally asked the minister of education to provide oversight of the review after it was requested by Geitz. On Tuesday, the board passed a motion requesting an independent review done by a panel of three people that have no connections with Palliser schools.
The board of trustees says the review will look at the entire Palliser school system in an effort to gain back the confidence of parents and staff.
“We would like a panel of three independents that are totally unaffiliated with Palliser or the division or with our staff, so it can be done externally. We want to be as transparent as possible,” board chair Colleen Deitz said.
Three trustees, along with the Palliser secretary and school council chairs, will advise the committee on selecting the review panel. Officials say the panel could include former police officers and education professionals.
“In a position like mine there are always people that will be pro and con. At this point, the review will come forward and we will get the facts out there,” Gietz said.