School Board Incurs Enormous Legal Costs to Close High Schools

The applicants for the legal action against the Limestone District School Board in Kingston, Ontario, say they are very surprised that the School Board spent over $250,000 on a case that took only a day and a half in court.

Save KCVI and the Sydenham District Association appealed the School Board’s decision to close Kingston’s city high schools. The Board’s controversial decision passed narrowly, by a 5-4 vote of the trustees.

Save KCVI’s plan to appeal the Board’s decision was made at a public meeting last spring, when community members packed the Wilson Room of the Central Library and agreed on a legal strategy. Hundreds of supporters filled St. George’s Cathedral to attend a fundraiser in June that featured musical performances from both students and graduates, among them members of the Tragically Hip.

The case, which focussed on School Board procedures, was heard last November and the applicants were unsuccessful.

In court documents, the School Board admits spending over $250,000 to oppose the action made by five members of Save KCVI as well as the Sydenham District Association.

The five individual applicants have been asked to pay a total of $35,000 in costs to the Board.

‘Our own legal costs were roughly one-tenth what the School Board paid their lawyers,’ said Art Cockfield, one of the applicants on behalf of Save KCVI. ‘By ordering the applicants to pay $35,000 of the Board’s costs, the court sets a harmful precedent that discourages public interest litigation and limits access to the justice system for ordinary Canadians.’

To date a site for the new school has not been determined.

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