Alberta teen’s death inquiry to find solutions to protect children at risk: Judge

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An Alberta education official told a fatality inquiry Wednesday that different rules were in place in 2013 that allowed a malnourished 15-year-old Calgary boy who died of sepsis and untreated diabetes from being seen by school staff.

Alexandru Radita weighed only 37 pounds when he was brought to hospital in May 2013. 

His parents, Emil and Rodica Radita, who were found guilty in 2017 of first-degree murder, refused to accept the boy had diabetes when he was initially diagnosed in B.C. with the disease in 2000.

He was hospitalized twice due to malnutrition and taken into foster care before later being returned to his parents, who moved to Calgary in 2008. 

Alexandru had been registered in a distance learning program at The School of Hope online school for Grade 5 in 2009, but didn’t submit any work during the school year. His registration was withdrawn at the end of the academic year and he wasn’t registered again.

Christine Bouchard, the field services manager for Alberta Education, explained to the inquiry the various types of online courses available for students learning at home. She said today a student would be engaged online with a teacher every day.

Provincial court Judge Sharon Van de Veen asked Bouchard if the boy’s education at The School of Hope was supervised in 2009.

“So hence the expectation, in terms of them laying eyes on him, was what?” asked Van de Veen.

“We didn’t have guidelines around online education at the time,” Bouchard replied.

Van de Veen has interviewed school, medical and government officials from Alberta and British Columbia during the inquiry. She has said she wants to find a way in her final report to make sure the same sort of situation doesn’t happen again.

“Seems to me that we had all of these state agencies and none of them could prevent the isolation of this child. He was isolated, so of course, the pharmacists didn’t know and of course, the doctors didn’t know and of course, child welfare didn’t know,” Van de Veen said.

“He was isolated by these parents for a number of years before his death. I’m just wondering if there’s some sort of alert system for cases of this kind that are so obvious that they lead to death?”

The inquiry has been adjourned until April 19. 

Emil Radita, who has sat through the review online from prison, is expected to take the stand before the matter concludes.

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