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Parent of North Okanagan-Shuswap student sues School District 83 over breach of duties

The Notice of Claim names board chair Bobbi Johnson, and current trustees Bob Fowler, Debbie Evans, Chris Coers, Barry Chafe and Michel Saab, as well as former board members Laurie Myers, Holly Overgaard and Lisa Rolland.
Image Credit: School District 83
May 20, 2016 - 4:57 PM

SALMON ARM - The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District is being sued by the parent of a Salmon Arm student for failing to provide adequate learning resources for her daughter.

The Notice of Civil Claim was filed May 16 by Brandi Lee White on behalf of her daughter, Jenica Henton. It names the Board of Education of School District 83, as well as every member on the board at that time.

Henton was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot and DiGeorge Syndrome and requires physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy, according to court documents. An Individual Education Plan was created for Henton, but the lawsuit alleges proper supports were “denied based on the alleged lack of available resources.”

“The defendant, the board and the individual defendant trustees intentionally created a budget allocation system which provided a lower level of services to the plaintiff, Jenica, causing an ongoing delay in her development and progress,” states the lawsuit.

The claim alleges the board breached its duties by diverting operating funds in excess of $10 million to a surplus account “when they knew or ought to have known that this would lead to a reduction in education and support services.”

The lawsuit also argues the B.C. government failed to provide an adequate level of funding, and breached its duties by failing to perform compliance audits of the board.

For its part, the school district is saying little about the allegations. 

"As this is now before the courts, we will not be providing a comment at this time," Superintendent Glenn Borthistle said. 

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

— This story was updated at 7:30 a.m. May 21, 2016 to include a statement from School District 83. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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