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SCHOOL REGULATION AND ADMINISTRATION - School districts - School boards - Organization - Status and powers

Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 12:42 PM  

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Appeal by four parents from an aspect of a judgment reviewing the jurisdiction of the respondent, Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, to order a school closure. In 2013, four school boards with defined jurisdictional areas were reorganized and replaced with the respondent, one English School District Board for the entire Province. In 2016, the Board decided to close Whitbourne Elementary School. The appellant parents sought judicial review. The reviewing court determined two issues. On the first issue, the judge concluded the Board was duly constituted and had authority to vote on the school closure. On the second issue, the judge concluded the parents were denied the opportunity to make reasonable representations to the Board on the issue. The school closure decision was accordingly quashed. Thereafter, the Board heard representations on the issue and reissued a decision to close the school. The parents consequently sought to appeal the first judicial review issue on the basis the judge erred in concluding the Board had authority to close the school.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The legislative intent of the Schools Act and the School Board Election Regulations as a whole was that the Board was to be comprised of trustees elected by zone. The date specified in the Regulations for a first election passed without election of the Board. No procedure was specified in the Regulations for directing an election thereafter. The authority to direct an election was reserved to government and no subsequent direction was issued by the Minister in proper form. The right of the parents to make representations on the significant issue of a school closure included the opportunity to make those representations to a duly constituted Board. The Board, comprised of appointed trustees, thus did not have the authority to order the closure of Whitbourne Elementary School.

Young v. Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, [2017] N.J. No. 247, Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court - Court of Appeal, B.G. Welsh, C.W. White and L.R. Hoegg JJ.A., June 23, 2017. Digest No. TLD-July102017010