Palliser selects panel for review

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The Board of Trustees of Palliser Regional Schools has selected a panel of three individuals to carry out an independent, external operational review of the school system.

At a special board meeting Tuesday, trustees were provided an update on the selection committee’s progress to date.

The selection committee, which consists of Vice-Chair Robert Strauss and Trustees Craig Whitehead and Debbie Laturnus, received “multiple” applications. They short-listed those candidates down to seven before arriving at three finalists.

The board as a whole reviewed those candidates and moved that based on their acceptance, the three panel members identified by the organizational review selection committee be offered contracts to conduct the independent, external, operational review of Palliser Regional Division.

Once those contracts are in place, information about the review process and panel member’s biographies will be published on the division website.

“I think we have a wealth of experience here and a group that meets the requirements and then some,” said Strauss.

In considering possible candidates for the review panel, the selection committee was looking for individuals who held skill sets in areas including investigative, human resources, organizational leadership and experience in the educational environment.

Among the key elements of the organizational review is that the review panel be given unfettered access to interview any former or existing Palliser employees and that current employees be given protection from any workplace retribution.

The review process will be held entirely off-site and the goal is to have the review finished by mid-June, if not sooner. The panel will present its findings to the board once complete.

The board also approved a budget of $136,000, plus expenses, for the operational review.

Superintendent Kevin Gietz had asked the board in January to hold an independent investigation to clear the air in light of online allegations and allow the staff to focus on students and student learning.

At that time trustees voted to ask the minister to provide oversight of the review. At a subsequent meeting with the deputy minister, trustees were informed a review was the sole responsibility of the local board.

Later, an administrative representative from Alberta Education was added to provide guidance and direction on the implementation and the use of appropriate policy and protocol to support the work of the selection committee. The goal was to ensure all Palliser staff can remain at arm’s length from the process.