N.B.’s top court rules Browns Flat, Lorne Middle will remain closed

Posted on: December 29th, 2018 by
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FREDERICTON – It’s not the decision parents in two New Brunswick communities were hoping for.

New Brunswick’s top court has ruled Browns Flat Elementary and Lorne Middle School will remain closed.

The Court of Appeal overturned the decision by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Darrell Stephenson that the process was flawed and quashed the Education Minister’s decision to close them.

Browns Flat father Phil Kennedy told reporters it will be difficult to share Friday’s decision with the kids.

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“The kids are smart though,” he said. “They understand what’s been going on. I think what we’re going to be saying is of course the court made the decision that they felt they needed to make today.”

He added that the ruling meant that government can make wide-sweeping decisions without having to be accountable for them.

“We’ve got a democratic issue brewing here. It truly is an issue of democracy and I think the other question is can we afford not to take it further,” he said.

Friday’s hearing was before Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau and Judges Margaret Larlee and Marc Richard.

Drapeau read the court’s decision just after 2 p.m., saying that absent of sufficient reason, judges must leave the policy decisions of elected representatives standing.

Drapeau said the court would be releasing the reasons for their decision at a later time.

Kelly Lamrock, lawyer for the parents, left the door open to a potential Supreme Court challenge, but said he would wait to see the reasons.

“There is another level,” he said. “When we get the reasons I will consult with my clients and the other schools who probably have an interest in the outcome for the impact next year and we’ll see if further appeal makes sense from there.”

In an e-mail to Global News, Minister Serge Rousselle wrote:

“While today’s decision may serve the public interest, I recognize that it’s not what some communities wanted to hear. The district education councils, who are elected by the people, do tremendous work in their communities and it is certainly not an easy decision to recommend a school closure. I thank the district education councils for making these tough decisions.”

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