Appeal court stays order to reorganize schools

Education minister says there will be a "stable environment" for schools next fall while the court battle with teachers drags on

Education Minister Peter Fassbender

The B.C. Court of Appeal has suspended a lower court ruling that would force B.C.’s school districts to reorganize around teacher contract terms that were scrapped by the government in 2002.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the latest turn in the long-running legal battle with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation allows stability for parents and students while negotiations continue on class size, special needs support and other issues.

The decision provides a “stable environment” for the 60 school districts to prepare for next September under existing arrangements, he said.

“We need to now get back to the table and see if we can find that sweet spot between both parties where we have a negotiated settlement,” Fassbender said.

Those negotiations, to replace an imposed contract that expired last June, are scheduled to continue next week as BCTF members take a strike vote.

The appeal court decision, released Wednesday, allows the government to pursue its appeal of a January ruling that it argued would cause major disruption to schools, which will likely take several months.

In January, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin found for a second time that B.C. legislation imposing contract terms violated teachers’ right to collective bargaining.

In his decision, Justice David Harris agreed with submissions from district superintendents around the province.

“The evidence demonstrates that the immediate reinsertion of the deleted terms into the collective agreement will probably lead to a dislocation of current planning and budgeting or the next school year, immense challenges in hiring sufficient suitably qualified staff, lay-offs of employees, change to available school programs, cancelling school programs, creating more classes, moving students to other schools, disrupting programs for special needs students, the provision of additional classroom space (likely through the addition of portables where space permits), and the breaking of contracts with community groups who use school space for their activities as school districts reclaim the needed space to accommodate additional classes,” Harris wrote.

BCTF lawyers had argued that the 2002 rules could have been reinstated in time for the September 2014 school year. Harris said it would be unlikely the appeal of constitutional arguments would be complete by then, and if it is successful, the school system would have to be made over again.

 

Just Posted

The “King of Sailplane Aerobatics” coming to SkyFest in Quesnel

Manfred Radius has been flying since 1961, logging more than 2,000 hours in various sailplanes

Meet Quesnel’s Firesmart representative

Amanda Vibert is coordinating Firesmart workshops around town and assessing individual homes

Quesnel Crossfire season ends with a fizzle

The team was suspended from Prince George Senior Lacrosse league after forfeiting second game

Forestry Ink: The Chinchaga firestorm

Jim Hilton returns with his regular column

Wells’ Sunset Theatre unveils summer season lineup

The lineup features award-winning touring productions, play readings, concerts, and world premieres

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Give Hope Wings fundraiser launches Saturday from Pitt Meadows

Flying marathon will benefit low income Canadians needing flights for medical treatment

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Most Read