The Corporation of Schreiber and concerned residents brought an application seeking judicial review of a decision by the local School Board to close a high school located in the town. The court dismissed the application for judicial review holding that the Applicants had not met the burden of establishing that the Board had committed a procedural error in reaching its decision to close the school that was so fundamental that it affected the basis of the Board’s decision.

24. September 2002 0

Administrative law – Schools – Closures – School boards – Jurisdiction – Boards and tribunals – Procedural fairness – Judicial review application

Schreiber (Township) v. Superior Greenstone District School Board, [2002] O.J. No. 3303, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court – Thunder Bay, Ontario, August 23, 2002, Kozak J.

Lake Superior High School has two campuses, one in Terrace Bay, Ontario and the other in Schreiber, Ontario. These towns are approximately 12 kilometres apart. The Superior Greenstone District School Board has jurisdiction over the operations of Lake Superior High School. The Board is authorized to close schools by virtue of s. 171(1) of the Education Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. E.2 provided such closure is in accordance with policies established by the Board. Board policy No. 905, “Pupil Accommodation”, sets out the process under which the Board reviews its school facilities and assesses whether additional space is required to accommodate its pupils. A decision was made by the Board on March 22, 2002 to close the Schreiber campus of the Lake Superior High School. An application was then brought on behalf of the Corporation of the Township of Schreiber and two concerned residents for judicial review of the decision of the Board.

A preliminary issue was raised by the Board as to whether this was a “school closure” or simply a reallocation of pupils. The court determined that where a building will no longer be used as a school, this would constitute a “school closing”.

With respect to the mandate of the court in this type of matter, the court noted that it had a narrow mandate confined to whether the school closing was authorized by law, whether there was adequate public consultation as required by law and whether the decision was taken through a process that was procedurally fair. In this case, the court found that there was no evidence that the Board had breached its duty of procedural fairness in arriving at its decision to close the Schreiber campus. As well, the process was open and lasted for a long enough period of time to provide ample opportunity for public input. The court did not find that the applicants had discharged the burden of showing that there was a procedural error so fundamental that it affected the basis of the Board’s decision. In the result, the application was dismissed.

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