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Province seeks stay of court ruling on class size, compositionFebruary 19, 2014

Author: Webmaster

Implementation of a recent court ruling on class size and composition would cause “irreparable harm to the public interest of an unprecedented magnitude,” the Liberal government says.

For that reason, it has asked the B.C. Court of Appeal to stay key sections of the ruling by Justice Susan Griffin – including the one that ordered the restoration of 2002 class size and composition limits – pending a decision on the province’s appeal.

To back its request, the government filed affidavits on Friday from seven school superintendents also warning about the difficulties that would occur if schools were required to re-organize classes now to meet clauses that the Liberals deleted from the teachers’ contract in 2002.

“The evidence from school districts illustrates the extraordinary disruption that would ensue from immediate restoration of the deleted clauses – whether mid-school year, or even for the 2014-15 school year – which could not be remedied in the event of a successful appeal,” government told the court.

Find a letter from one of those superintendents, Jordan Tinney of Surrey, at the bottom of this CBC story.

The government provided the following examples of the harm that would occur through the immediate return to 2002 contract language: Program cuts, reduced educational choice, transfer of students due to space constraints at some schools, closure of daycare centres and StrongStart programs to create additional classroom space, teacher recruitment challenges that would lead to the hiring of unqualified staff, dismissal of non-teaching staff and cancellation of the international student programs.

Furthermore, it said that without a stay, time and money will be spent on grievances from teachers whose classes do not meet 2002 rules because they are too large or include too many unsupported special-needs students.

The province is also seeking a stay of an order from Griffin that would allow the BCTF to disseminate written submissions to the court that quote extensively from cabinet documents. (This has to do with the judge’s conclusion that the government tried to goad the BCTF into striking in 2011.) It did not request a stay of the order to pay $2 million in Charter damages to the union.

The superintendents who signed affidavits in support of the province’s request were: Jordan Tinney (Surrey), Kevin Godden (Abbotsford), Hugh Gloster (Central Okanagan), Kathy Sawchuk (Peace River South), Paul Carriere (Rocky Mountain)), Terry Sullivan (Kamloops-Thompson) and Suzanne Hoffman (Langley).

The Burnaby board of education, meanwhile, has written to Education Minister Peter Fassbender asking the government to withdraw the appeal, negotiate with the BCTF a delay in the implementation of the 2002 clauses until the next school year and provide adequate funding so that districts are able to comply with those clauses in 2014-15.

The Vancouver board has also written to the minister asking that government cover all costs arising from grievances, arbitrations and legal actions against boards that aren’t now in compliance with the Griffin ruling.

Read more about the application for a stay here and here.

I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and the information presented here does not represent in any way the views of the organization.

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