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Supreme Court dismisses application to quash school closing
September 26, 2005

The Saanich School Board did not breach procedural fairness in reaching its decision to close an elementary school, the B.C. Supreme Court has held.

The proceedings were initiated through a judicial review application to set aside a board bylaw authorizing the closure of the school. The petitioners alleged a breach of procedural fairness in the board’s failure to consult with parents in a meaningful way.

The board argued that it followed its own policy guidelines and procedures in respect of its obligation to consult and, in any event, there was ample consultation both before and after December 15, 2004, the day it passed a motion regarding the proposed closure of the school. The final decision to close the school was made six months later, in June 2005.

The court held that the essence of procedural fairness in the context of a school closure decision requires that the affected parties be afforded timely disclosure of relevant information, a full opportunity to develop and present their viewpoints and a legitimate chance to influence the board’s decision.

The court characterized the board’s decision of December 15, 2004, as a notice of a proposed closure, subject to change in light of public consultation or changing circumstances. It concluded there was sufficient public consultation in the ensuing months and that parents had an adequate opportunity to consult with the board before the final decision was made to close the school in June 2005.

(Click here for full copy of Decision)