September 26th, 2018

SD76 seeks legal fees from Concerned Parents, which intends to comply

By Tim Kalinowski on May 18, 2017.

Gerry Prince of Concerned Parents of School Division No. 76 has confirmed his group does not intend to fight the SD76 board’s decision to seek reimbursement for court fees associated with a petition case at the Court of Queen’s Bench.

“The school board has been pretty fair with what they’ve been asking, and so we will certainly undertake to comply with our responsibility under that,” said Prince. “It’s a significant amount, but we know their costs were significantly higher than that.”

Prince cited Tuesday’s board decision to amend the Sexual Orientation and Gender Policy for cutting the board some slack on the fees matter.

“I think they have made a couple of key changes, and we are pleased they’ve been listening. We think these changes are going in the right direction. We think their (new) policy on disclosure is good for pre-adults and teens, but still may not be entirely appropriate for younger children.

“There is still some concerns we have with that … The Family Law Act states I have the right to know where my kids are, and what they are doing, including the right to choose their education. It specifically states I have the right to know of their participation in any extracurricular school activities. We are not really seeing that reflected in the board’s policy yet.”

Prince said he appreciates the school board is in a difficult situation, and it needs to comply with provincial laws. He wishes the board had been more amenable to listening to his group’s concerns early on, and perhaps the court case could have been avoided altogether.

“I think we would have preferred a different method to get the board’s attention prior to the petition, and felt it was the only way to proceed to express concerns. We hadn’t had much luck in communicating our concerns to them. We knew going in to the court case there may be some costs, and it could end up being a costly process. But we felt our principles, and the points we were standing for, were worth that risk.”

SD76 board chair Rick Massini announced on Tuesday the school district would be seeking $2,200 in legal fees from Concerned Parents, the maximum allowed under the law.

Massini restated yesterday the board hoped that by seeking reimbursement in this matter it would discourage similar costly court challenges down the road.

“We are concerned about setting a precedent for other things like this in the future,” confirmed Massini. “Court costs are quite considerable, and we can’t afford to be spending money on court costs as opposed to spending money on education services.”

Note: The headline to this story has been corrected which group is seeking reimbursement of legal fees.

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