Alberta education minister defends school shutdown as parents voice concerns

Alberta home schooling agency fires back after funding pulled
WATCH: Parents say they have been left scrambling after a home-schooling association representing 3,500 students across Alberta was shut down by the province. Sarah Kraus has reaction.

Alberta’s education minister is trying to quash talk of being anti-religious after pulling accreditation and funding from the Trinity Christian School Association in Cold Lake.

The province pulled the funding after a three-year audit found financial and conflict of interest concerns.

The registration and accreditation for the association, which oversees 3.500 home-schooled students and 13 students who learn in a classroom, was cancelled immediately.

READ MORE: Alberta government shuts down Cold Lake private school; province says insufficient accountability 

Minister David Eggen said Trinity supporters are claiming the government has it out for Christian schools but he says it was only about how public money was spent.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Eggen told 630 CHED. “We know that the various providers of education in our province include a separate school system, with private schools and homeschooling, and when everything is moving as it should, it is a very high-quality delivery of education.”

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He commented that it had nothing to do with religion.

“It is very important that public money is dealt with according to the law and according to proper accounting practices,” explained Eggen.

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“We worked very hard and long to look for how the money was being spent and we found serious flaws.”

Eggen said it is critical to ensure public funds are spent properly.

“It doesn’t matter who a group is or an individual, whatever it happens to be, if it is public money, it has to be ensured that it is being spent in an efficient and transparent matter and both of those things were found wanting in regards to Trinity.”

READ MORE: Alberta home schooling agency fires back at government after funding pulled 

He explained his job is to ensure public money is spent properly and if there is an issue, he needs to act on that. Eggen says the majority of Albertans agree.

In 2014, the former-Conservative government shut down the International School of Excellence in Calgary as a result of an inquiry that found financial irregularities.

READ MORE: Calgary private school ordered to shut down 

Eggen says around 11,000 students across Alberta are home-schooled.

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The audit found the Wisdom Home Schooling Society, part of the Trinity Christian School Association, retained $988,000 in public money a year, and had ineligible expenses and other irregularities.

The RCMP and Canada Revenue Agency have been notified about the findings.

With files from Newstalk770 and Global News