School District #83's district education support centre.

Parent initiates lawsuit against school district

Suit alleges required services were denied or provided at a lower level of service, causing an ongoing delay in student's development…

The parent of a special needs student in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District is suing the school board, the Ministry of Education and individual trustees, both past and present, claiming their decisions caused severe harm to her daughter’s development.

Brandi Lee White launched civil action in B.C. Supreme Court last week on behalf of her daughter Jenica Henton, who is currently 17 and a student at Salmon Arm Secondary.

Henton has tetralogy of Fallot and DiGeorge syndrome, and has required two open heart surgeries, eye surgery and a throat surgery, in addition to suffering frequent illnesses. As a result of her condition, Henton’s required individual education plan outlines special educational needs including speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy, as well as the recognition that she requires special supports and supervision. The lawsuit notes a lack of school supervision and support, which allegedly led to Henton being mocked and bullied at school, including an incident where her mouth was taped shut by other students.

White’s suit alleges required services were denied or provided at a lower level of service, “causing an ongoing delay in her development and progress.” It  alleges that requests for necessary programs and assistance, “have been continually denied by the board, trustees and employees of the board on the basis of a lack of funding available…”

The lawsuit also states the school board and trustees, “diverted 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.”

In addition to the allegations regarding the board and trustees, the suit also alleges negligence on the part of the province. The suit targets the Ministry of Education for failing to provide an adequate level of funding to ensure the educational goals of the system are accomplished and failing to ensure funds were properly allocated for the purpose of educating students.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and the defendants have three weeks to file a statement of defence.

In response to questions about the lawsuit, School District No. 83 released the following statement:

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

In an interview with the News, White says it was a difficult decision to initiate the lawsuit, but she was horrified when she heard about the diverted funds and recognized the impact this may have had on her daughter’s development.

“I went to meeting after meeting and asked for supports but I was always told there wasn’t the money for this, there wasn’t the money for that, that they were doing the best they could. But that wasn’t really the case,” she said. “Jenica is now doing well in a work experience program at SAS, but what really bothers me is imagining how much better she could be doing if these supports had been fully funded. That’s what we’ll never know and that’s what really bothers me. That opportunity was taken from her.”

White wants to make sure a similar situation never happens again to another child.

She also alleges negligence on the part of the province in not providing oversight or compliance from the school board.

“The citizens of B.C. should all be upset about this because everyone’s tax dollars were mishandled.”

It is not known how long the case could take to proceed through the court system, but White says her lawyer has told her to prepare for up to two years. She says she was deterred from initiating a class action due to the additional time it would take to proceed.

 

 

 

Just Posted

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Police issue warrant for Sicamous man

Sheldon Odd wanted for theft under $5,000

Trustee to consider opening outdoor school in September

Staff recommend South Canoe School re-open with a new district program

Okanagan’s first Christmas was cold and bleak

Father Pandosy and his crew likely spent their first Christmas cold and hungry

Holiday Train rolls through the Shuswap

Hundreds of people have gathered in Sicamous, Canoe and Salmon Arm for… Continue reading

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

Tim Hortons owners honoured

Sicamous Tims owners Jonathan and Nicholas Dow receive Inclusive Employer Award

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

ERS band students swing in the season with Winter Concert

Show features mix of modern numbers and Christmas classics

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Most Read