Due to the nature of the issue, the judge in the case of the two Greater Victoria School board trustees who were suspended has opted to provide written decisions, rather than presenting them orally.
Diane McNally and Rob Paynter are two trustees who were censured and suspended in February due to allegations of bullying and harassment.
The pair filed a petition in the B.C. Supreme Court asking to review whether school boards have the authority to suspend elected officials.
The hearing took three days, where lawyers representing McNally and Paynter argued that the School Act outlines that the Supreme Court is permitted to remove trustees under limited circumstances or the lieutenant governor is permitted to remove the whole board, but the power is not granted to the board.
The lawyer representing the Greater Victoria School board argued that the School Act permits boards of education to suspend employees, and that trustees are employees of the board.
If the courts were to rule that the school board has the authority to suspend elected officials, the lawyers for McNally and Paynter argued the punishment was too severe, given the pair were not given prior warnings and discipline for the behaviour.
The school board’s lawyer argued the pair demonstrated through their actions they had no intention of stopping the alleged bullying and harassment, which is why the school board took the measure of removing them.
Justice Briana Hardwick has noted the question of whether school boards have the authority to remove trustees has not been heard before in court, so this case raises “interesting legal questions” so she will be providing written decisions.
Hardwick said she will not provide a timeline for when the decision will be released, but aims to release it in a timely manner given the importance of the matter.