Province denies responsibility in North Okanagan-Shuswap school lawsuit | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Province denies responsibility in North Okanagan-Shuswap school lawsuit

School District 83 board office.
November 10, 2016 - 3:01 PM

NORTH OKANAGAN - The provincial government is denying responsibility after the mother of a North Okanagan-Shuswap student sued over a lack of learning resources for her special needs daughter.

The province is arguing that the case against it, which was initiated by Brandi Lee White on behalf of her daughter, Jenica Henton, be dismissed with costs. The lawsuit also names the School District 83 board of education, and individual board members specifically.

In court documents filed Oct. 26 in Vernon Supreme Court, the province says it is responsible for providing block funding, and creating general standards and policies with respect to the provision of educational programs and support services, while the role of delivering those resources and deciding how money is spent is up to individual boards.

It argues current legislation “provides no authority to, and confers no responsibility on, the minister to monitor or oversee the day-to-day administration of schools.”

In the notice of claim, White says her daughter was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot and DiGeorge Syndrome and requires physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy. According to the lawsuit, an Individual Education Plan was created for Henton, but proper supports were “denied based on the alleged lack of available resources.”

The province says it requires school boards to ensure individual education plans are designed for special needs students, but if one was required for the plaintiff, it would be up to the board to ensure proper learning activities were implemented.

“At all material times, the provision of educational programs and support services to the infant plaintiff was wholly the responsibility of the board, and the allocation of funds to particular programs or support services for the infant plaintiff was at the board’s discretion,” states the province.

The North Okanagan-Shuswap School Board was fired earlier this year after a special advisor identified a number of issues, including poor financial management and a deterioration of the public’s trust. The firing followed months of controversy over the transfer of $10.5 million in surplus operating funds into capital reserves, which were used to pay for a new $9-million board office and a $1-million school works building.

Former Surrey School District superintendent Mike McKay has assumed the full duties and responsibilities of the board.

Neither the School District 83 board of education, nor individual trustees, have filed a response to the notice of claim.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. 

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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News from © iNFOnews, 2016

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