Legal News

School Board Liable for Failure to Correct False Allegations
July 31, 2006

The Halifax Regional School Board has been ordered to a pay a lesbian teacher $25,000 for failing to protect her from a false accusation of sexual assault.

The complaint developed after a co-worker told the school’s vice-principal that she had seen the complainant, a physical education teacher, leaving a locker room with a female Grade 12 student. The co-worker accused the complainant of having a sexual encounter with the female student and of being “too familiar and inappropriate” with students generally. The school’s principal filed a police report without discussing the allegations with either teacher. Although a school liaison officer investigated the allegations and found no evidence of wrongdoing, the complainant was treated with suspicion for the rest of the year and her courses, extra-curricular responsibilities, and preparation time were reduced.

A Board of Inquiries accepted the evidence of the complainant and the student that they entered the locker room simply to move gym equipment. The adjudicator concluded that the principal, the complainant’s co-worker and the School Board discriminated against the complainant in responding to the allegations because their response was based in large part on her sexual orientation. The Chair found that representatives of the School District had a duty to respond fairly to such allegations. The principal breached his duty in choosing to remain ignorant of the facts and ensuring that others also remained unaware of them.