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

LETTER: Thanks to truly angelic Snow Angels

Harrison residents Marg and Ted Doman thank the anonymous snow shovellers who cleaned their driveway

With sport, it’s best to start them young

When facing off on the court as teenagers, some players recall starting their career in elementary

Agassiz churches to come together for night of worship

The joint worship night is an attempt to revive an old event in the community

New Chilliwack YMCA was ‘worth the wait’ say visitors

Family Day will mark officially opening for new building, after sneak peek tours on Saturday

More people in Chiliwack coming in to shelters to get out of the cold

Ruth and Naomi’s went over-capacity this week to accommodate shelter guests coming in from the cold

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read