Letter to Gov’t Officials in BC re Education of Bountiful’s Children–Jancis Andrews

Claire Avison, Asst. Deputy Minister,

Governance Legislation and Regulation Division

Dear Assistant Deputy Minister Avison,

Thank you for your email dated December 10, 2012, reference # 163527, in which you describe the arrangements made for the education of the children who attended Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School (BESS). This school was closed on the orders of their jailed American prophet, Warren Jeffs, presently serving a life sentence for the rape of two underage girls he selected as his “celestial wives.”

It is good to hear that the majority of BESS students are now enrolled in distributed learning programs offered by public boards of education, and even better news that some have enrolled in regular public school programs. Perhaps these isolated children will now stand a chance of seeing that there is a far better world beyond that of the closed and lawless patriarchal world created by the Canadian and American elders of the FLDS.

There is widespread concern, however, that some of these children have been registered for “traditional home schooling.” Your description of “fewer than half” still means that a very sizeable number of children will be denied a proper education. The MOE website describes distributed learning versus homeschool learning, and it is appalling that the latter imposes no standards whatsoever. This amounts to an abandonment of children, and particularly so for the children of Bountiful.There is a very real possibility that the schooling these unlucky children  receive from their ill-educated, prophet-ridden parents will be useless at best and non-existent at worst.

Do not all Canadian children have equal educational rights? Canadians believe that the answer is “Yes, they do.”

According to the Independent School Act, the Governance Division, of which you are the Deputy Minister, is responsible for home schooling. According to the MOE’S policies for homeschooled children as from July 24, 2012, parents who homeschool their children:

1.  Register at a public or independent school.

1.  Deliver instruction at home.

3.  Exercise complete independence and control over their children’s education.

4.  May use any learning resource of their choice.

5.  Are not obligated to follow a provincially prescribed curriculum.

6.  Do not receive provincial credit for course work and are not eligible to receive a Grade 12 Dogwood Graduate Diploma.   

The emphasis is mine. Sections 3 to 6 inclusive would allow Bountiful’s parents to teach their children to break Canadian law owing to the fact that the parents are fanatical supporters of polygamy. If these parents continue to practise their religion as they have in the past, it will ensure that boys and girls not only receive an inferior education that fits them only for Joe-Jobs, but, if this lawless cult continues to practise polygamy, also puts the girl children at serious risk of sexual exploitation by middle-aged elders, as well as the real possibility (since it already has been documented by the RCMP) that girls will be trafficked into and out of FLDS compounds in the USA in order to fulfill FLDS requirements for multiple “celestial wives.”

The Ministry of Education’s Service Plan for the years 2012 – 2015, states, “Our government remains committed to ensuring every family in BC has access to high quality education so that their children can reach their full potential.” “Every family” includes Bountiful’s families. Can you inform concerned Canadians how the MOE plans to ensure that Bountiful’s homeschooled children can “achieve their full potential” along with the rest of BC’s children?

Concerned Canadians will be very glad and very relieved to receive proof that your plans will succeed.

It has often been said of Bountiful that BC governments do not want to take action against known offenders because (a) the horrendous court costs that will be involved in a time of fiscal restraint, and (b) so many of Bountiful’s elders and parents will be charged that the case could drag on for years.

This is all true. However, we cannot allow pedophiles and traffickers to get away with their horrendous crimes. Such inaction by any government would be a scandal that would eclipse all other scandals.

For the first time, British Columbia now has a female premier as well as a female attorney-general. Mainstream Canadians now look to Premier Christy Clark and A-G Shirley Bond to demonstrate the leadership and the courage that their predecessors lacked. We want to see action that will demonstrate the Clark government will not shy away from laying charges against the pedophiles and traffickers of Bountiful.

We expect the Clark government to uphold ALL the human rights of Bountiful’s children, as is the government’s sworn duty. These rights include educational rights. Mainstream Canadians will be happy to learn of your plans.

Yours very truly,

Jancis M. Andrews

(Stop Polygamy in Canada Society)

CC: The Hon. Christy Clark, Premier

The Hon. Shirley Bond, A-G

The Hon. Don McRae, Minister of Education

The Hon. Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Rep. for Children and Youth (by fax)

Interested activists and members of the media

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