Edmonton Catholic School Board elects new chair, vice chair

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Edmonton Catholic School trustees voted in Laura Thibert and Marilyn Bergstra as their new board chair and vice chair, respectively, for the 2016-2017 year.

Thibert is the trustee for Ward 77. She was first elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2013. Thibert served as the board’s vice chair during the 2013-2014 year.

“I am excited and humbled to protect and promote Catholic education in Edmonton Catholic schools,” the new board chair said in a news release. “I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to move the district forward and ensure all children live, learn and serve God in one another.”

Bergstra, who is serving her third term as trustee after being elected in 2007, will take the position of vice chair. She previously served as vice chair (2014-2015) and chair (2015-2016).

“This is one avenue to support my colleagues who I respect immensely for the passion, talents and dedication that each one of them brings to the board,” Bergstra said.

READ MORE: Vote on transgender policy put on hold after heated debate by Edmonton Catholic School trustees

The school board has made headlines over the past few years, particularly as it struggled to create a sexual orientation and gender identity policy, which was mandated by the province.

In the spring of 2015, the family of a seven-year-old transgender girl filed a human rights complaint. She no longer identified as a boy, wanted to use the girl’s washroom and didn’t want to stand out by having to use a new, gender-neutral washroom.

READ MORE: Local mother accuses Edmonton Catholic School Board of discrimination

In January, Bergstra apologized for a decision to email a Calgary bishop’s letter to parents, a decision which was made by board members while she was away.

READ MORE: Edmonton Catholic chair apologizes if sending out Calgary bishop’s letter caused hurt

In July, a report released by an observer appointed by Education Minister David Eggen found that Edmonton Catholic School trustees were confused about their governance role and have “made it up” as they went along.

The board was required to work with the deputy minister of education to improve its governance structure and overall accountability and had until Sept. 30 to submit an implementation timeline.