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

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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From Feb. 25 to April 30, the Galloping Goose Trail will be reduced to a single lane between Gorge Road East and Burnside Road East for a Capital Regional District sewer line renewal project. (Map via the Capital Regional District)
CRD sewer work brings delays to Galloping Goose Trail

Parts of trail, Cecelia Ravine Park impacted until April 30

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Greater Victoria teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

One year in, teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressure from families

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

The Port of Nanaimo has signed a 50-year-agreement with DP World around short-sea shipping operations at Duke Point Terminal. (News Bulletin file photo)
Lease ‘important first step’ in $105-million Nanaimo port expansion project

Port of Nanaimo and DP World sign 50-year shipping operations agreement for Duke Point

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

Most Read