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Religious teachings at St. James school to be allowed following vote by board of trustees

Some students at an elementary school in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division (SJASD) will be receiving 30 minutes of religious teaching this year after the board of trustees passed a bylaw Tuesday evening.

The board of trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to bylaw 326-23, which will see some students at Strathmillan School receive religious teachings over the lunch hour.

The program would be run by the Child Evangelism Fellowship, which is a faith-based group based out of Warrenton, Missouri.

The topic was discussed after a petition was brought to the board by area residents to allow the program. More than 25 signatures were gathered from parents of children at the school.

The SJASD previously told CTV News Winnipeg that as part of the Public Schools Act in the province, the board of trustees is required to pass the bylaw if the number of signatures is met.

The division added only children of the parents who signed the petition will take the program.

During the board meeting Tuesday, it was clarified that this program will only be in place for the 2022-23 school year and a new petition must be submitted again for the next school year if the program is to continue.

It was also specified that any person attending the school to teach the program must first pass a criminal record check before being allowed at the school.

Two of the trustees said they plan on attending one of the program sessions so that the board is aware of what is being taught and to ensure the school division's guidelines are being followed.

In a statement sent on Thursday from the SJASD Board of Trustees, they said they are seeking clarification from the minister of education about sections 80 and 81 of the Public Schools Act, the sections that required the religious program to be approved by the board.

"We remain committed to providing safe, caring and inclusive learning environments for our students that respect human diversity, while respecting religious diversity," the statement said.

The board added there will be no other details shared about the program at this time. Top Stories

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