Some Saskatchewan students are concerned about the education ministry’s ability to respond to complaints

Former students of Saskatoon’s Legacy Christian Academy are disputing details in a recent ombudsman report regarding the Ministry of Education’s ability to investigate complaints about registered independent schools.

The report from Saskatchewan’s ombudsman says the ministry is unprepared to investigate complaints about registered independent schools, with no process in place to record, investigate, and report complaints about the independent schools it’s responsible for.

“Given its regulatory role, the ministry should anticipate receiving complaints related to independent schools,” the report said.

“Consequently, it is crucial for the ministry to have a well-established process in place to handle these complaints in a comprehensive, timely, impartial, and fair manner.”

Mark Drapak, a former student connected to a $25 million class action lawsuit against staff at the Legacy Christian Academy and the affiliated Mile Two Church — which prompted the ombudsman investigation — says the timeline laid out in the report doesn’t line up.

“It was almost a shock to actually see the government admit and admit that it didn’t have a process,” Drapak said.

In November, Education Minister Dustin Duncan said the ministry was only made aware of issues at Legacy Christian Academy on Aug. 9, when the lawsuit was filed.

However, Drapak said a former teacher at Grace Christian School, which has since been shuttered by the ministry, filed complaints in 2016 and 2018, and he was told they were thoroughly investigated by both the ministry and Saskatoon police.

“Now we understand that they have never had an investigation process or guidelines or a policy to work with,” he said.

Former student Caitlin Erickson further points to a letter from Duncan dated Aug. 4, which contradicts Duncan’s Aug. 9 claims that’s also mentioned in the report.

“He signed it acknowledging that I emailed him about police complaints, and telling me how brave I am as a victim for coming forward and other students. So he definitely did know about that,” Erickson said.

In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Education said it “welcomes the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Ombudsman in implementing and improving processes that promote the well-being of all Saskatchewan students and ensure their right to safe schools and quality education .”

Erickson has little confidence for any progress or implementation at this point.

“There is a pattern there that they are not documenting things, and I don’t know if it’s just willful ignorance or if it’s just inept at their job,” she said. “I’m not sure which one it is, but it’s harmful to all the people that this affects.”

The ministry declined to comment on specifics mentioned in the ombudsman report or how complaints from former Legacy students were processed, saying it would not comment because the Government of Saskatchewan was named in the lawsuit.

Opening arguments for the class action lawsuit happen Friday at Court of King’s Bench in Saskatoon.

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