Ap­peal filed in Whit­bourne Ele­men­tary court chal­lenge

School sup­port­ers ar­gue against statu­tory au­thor­ity of un­elected trustees

The Compass - - Sports - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The fight to keep Whit­bourne Ele­men­tary open is go­ing back to court.

Par­ents from the K-6 school are tak­ing the case to the Supreme Court of New­found­land and Labrador Court of Ap­peal, with St. John’s lawyer Daniel Sim­mons once again rep­re­sent­ing the plain­tiffs.

Last sum­mer, Supreme Court Jus­tice Va­lerie Mar­shall quashed a pre­vi­ous de­ci­sion by the board of trustees for the New­found­land and Labrador English School District (NLESD) to close the school on grounds it failed to dis­close in­for­ma­tion in a timely man­ner. She re­jected an ar­gu­ment ques­tion­ing the statu­tory au­thor­ity of an un­elected board con­sist­ing of gov­ern­ment ap­pointees.

With the ap­peal filed at the end of Fe­bru­ary, school sup­port­ers are go­ing back to the statu­tory au­thor­ity is­sue, hop­ing the Court of Ap­peal will find the school board trustees did not have the au­thor­ity to close Whit­bourne Ele­men­tary.

Less than two months af­ter Jus­tice Mar­shall’s rul­ing, the board voted again to close the school. That clo­sure would be ef­fec­tive this June. The first NLESD elec­tion for school board trustees took place last Novem­ber. Gov­ern­ment ap­pointed pre­vi­ous board mem­bers when NLESD was formed in the fall of 2013.

“We had hoped that the Board would re­spect the de­ci­sion made by the Supreme Court on July 29, 2016,” Wade Smith, chair of the Help Whit­bourne Ele­men­tary Com­mit­tee, said in a news re­lease is­sued last Tues­day. “How­ever, rather than wait for school board elec­tions on Nov. 22, 2016 the board de­cided to al­low the same un­elected trustees to con­tinue with a flawed school re­view process which ended with a school clo­sure vote on Sept. 20th. We are very dis­ap­pointed that par­ents again have to look to the courts for help to save our school.”

Those look­ing to save the school hope any rul­ing on the board’s statu­tory au­thor­ity to vote in favour of clos­ing the school last April would equally ap­ply to the de­ci­sion made Sept. 20. This fall, stu­dents are set to start tak­ing classes at Wood­land Ele­men­tary in Dildo.

NLESD is re­quired to file its re­sponse by March 30. Ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease, a hear­ing date has not been set.

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Another court bat­tle is brew­ing over the fu­ture of Whit­bourne Ele­men­tary.

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