Report from Osgoode Hall
June 7, 2012

This may be redundant as the Peterborough media is covering the court case in some detail but I’ll offer a very brief summary of the events of the day.

Mr. Michael Hines, the Board’s lawyer, continued his argument at 9 am and focused his opening comments on case law. Case law in these kinds of challenges favours Boards of Education; consequently, he spent a considerable length of time reviewing one case after another in his efforts to demonstrate to the judges that legal precedent would suggest an outcome favourable to the Board. He then argued the issue of our ‘late’ pursuit of judicial review. Finally, he attempted to demonstrate to the judges that the so-called flip flop in recommendations from the closure of TASS to the closure of PCVS should not have surprised or ‘blindsided’ the PCVS community.

Mr. Rubinoff, our lawyer, then was accorded some time to respond. In his comments Mr. Rubinoff reiterated a challenge to the Board’s position that the school is not ‘closing’, a position the Board is taking in order to avoid the duty of procedural fairness. He went on to argue that our delay in moving to judicial review was reasonable. In terms of case law, he brought to the attention of the judges a case where a Board’s decision affecting 9 schools was overturned in July. He argued that this case should be seen as a precedent to demonstrate that breaches of procedural fairness should override the ‘inconvenience’ of a late decision.

He reiterated our position that the community was, indeed, blindsided by Senior Administration’s late change in recommendation and that we did not have an opportunity to challenge the rationale for that change.

Again, I would remind our supporters that the oral presentations by both lawyers constitute a relatively small portion of either case. The rest is captured in the affidavits with all the attached exhibits and the facta submitted to the judges in advance of June 6 and 7th.

Finally, know that the judges appreciate the importance of their rendering a decision as soon as possible. However, they did not offer a date. Their decision will be faxed to both lawyers and we will be apprised within minutes of that fax. At that point we will notify our supporters as quickly as possible.

Outside of Osgoode Hall a number of PCVS students surrounded our legal team to express their appreciation and to ask some questions. It was a lovely moment, captured I hope, on film by the many photographers in attendance.

Joanne Brown
Communications

 

Toronto, Wednesday, June 6, 7pm

Approximately 25 supporters made their way to Court #3 at Osgoode Hall to watch the proceedings. Our lawyer, Mr. Aaron Rubinoff accompanied with his two colleagues, was the first to speak and he presented until approximately 4 pm. After a short break the board’s lawyer, Mr. Michael Hines took the floor to begin his presentation.

The lawyers focused on the following issues:

  1. whether the school is actually closing. As odd as that may sound the Board’s argument is that the school will remain open but will simply be repurposed. The Board’s argument is that because the school will remain open the decision is not bound by a duty of procedural fairness.
  2. The last minute change in the recommendation on Sept. 26th which saw the recommendation change from closing TASS to closing PCVS.
  3. The flaws in the ARC process itself.
  4. The applicants’ delay in proceeding with a notice of a judicial review. The board will argue that they will not have enough time to do what needs to be done should the courts overturn their decision to close PCVS.
  5. The issue of Joan Green’s former relationship with KPR. In 2006 the Board retained the services of Joan Green to review its school closure process.

Court adjourned at approximately 5 pm and will begin at 9 am tomorrow morning which is one hour earlier than today’s start. Tomorrow Mr. Hines will finish the presentation of the Board’s case and then Mr. Rubinoff will have an opportunity to offer some final comments generated from Mr. Hines’s arguments.

The 3 judges have indicated that they are aware of the importance of rendering a decision as quickly as possible but did not indicate what the date might be.

Joanne Brown
Communications

 

PCVS Celebration Event Invitation

 

To all PCVS supporters: Court Case, Osgoode Hall

URGENT

Shirl just found out from our lawyers late this morning that of the 72 seats in Osgoode Hall, only 33 are designated for the public. Additionally, there is no video feed to an overflow room. We had made a request for these details last week but the court scheduler will only speak with our lawyers on these points. Thus, the delay. As we have no way of knowing who is planning to attend, we cannot say whether or not this seating will be adequate.

In an effort to ensure some communication

I will post on PNP a very brief report after each day’s hearing (assuming I get a seat in the courtroom)

In addition, I will email a copy of the two facta to any of our supporters, upon request. The factum is, in essence, the argument. Each is a maximum of 30 pages in length and will give a sense of the case which will be argued before the judges on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Please note that at times you may read statements in the facta which you may find questionable as to their veracity. Some of those statements will constitute the basis for debate. Please note as well that the facta do not represent the entire argument and lawyers from both sides may choose to provide greater or lesser emphasis to various points.

We hope that this plan might provide a suitable alternative for those who are unable or who choose not to attend in person.

Joanne Brown
Communications

Education Premier?

 

Trustees Wasting Money

To All PCVS Supporters

Our lawyers have now submitted their factum (our written argument) to the Ontario Divisional Court, as have the Board’s lawyers. At this point we cannot forward any new or additional material to our legal team.

If anybody wishes to watch the legal proceedings, please note the following details:

  • The case will be heard at Osgoode Hall, downtown Toronto, courtroom #3 on June 6 and June 7th/12. Osgoode Hall is at 130 Queen Street West. Parking is available at the Eaton Centre or City Centre.
  • The day begins at 10 a.m. and will end at the pleasure of the presiding judges, usually between 3 or 4 p.m. Aaron Rubinoff, our lead lawyer, will present our case first. This may take most of the first day.
  • Depending on time, KPR’s lead lawyer, Michael Hines, will then begin his presentation of KPR’s case. That will likely continue throughout most of the 2nd day. Following Mr. Hines’ argument, Mr. Rubinoff will have an opportunity to make reply submissions on any new arguments made by the Board that were not addressed in our brief.

Please note that the courtroom can accommodate 72 people. This includes the seating for the lawyers. Anyone who wishes to attend must understand that the judges will tolerate no distractions while the case is being argued. Please know that our behavior must be exemplary. We would respectfully request that there be no rally activity whatsoever inside or outside the building before or after the court is in session.

We are attempting to find out whether an overflow room is available with video capacity.

As I mentioned in an earlier communication, our lawyers will request the Court to render its decision as soon as possible.

Finally, please keep June 10th open, as we are holding an event to celebrate PCVS. Details to follow.

Joanne Brown
Communications

 

update from Joanne Brown,
chair, Communications
Peterborough Needs PCVS

FIRST, LET me thank the organizing committee for Save Local Schools, whose immense efforts resulted in the May 12 event at Confederation Park, situated so appropriately in front of the beautiful school that is PCVS.

The speakers, the music, the walk through the downtown, the food and the camaraderie among people bound by the same cause made the event a great success. Events like this leave us all re-energized and reaffirmed in our collective efforts to save PCVS while heightening awareness that similar battles are being fought in other communities across the province.

And the timing was perfect.

Legal challenge update

The cross-examinations of our affiants (people who sign affidavits) and the Board’s affiants were completed in Peterborough on Thursday and Friday of last week.

Shirl Delarue and Andrew Pyle, parent of a PCVS student and member of the ARC, are our two affiants; they were cross-examined on Thursday by the Board’s lawyers. Although Shirl’s affidavit contained the entire ‘story’ of PNP’s argument, you should know that the bulk of the material contained in her and Andrew’s affidavit came as a result of the collective efforts of so many of our supporters who researched, poured over minutes, uncovered anomalies, requested supporting data through FOI’s and dug up relevant articles. Our efforts in the last while focused on reviewing, assembling and forwarding anything which we thought might be of use to our lawyers. We have been in regular communication with Ottawa and PNP has been able to provide clarifications and additional supporting documentation when requested.

On Friday our lawyers cross-examined two of the Board’s five affiants. There will be no further cross-examinations. As a courtesy to the Board we will allow them to identify their affiants if they so wish.

Shirl sat in on these cross-examinations. As one would expect, we are not at liberty to discuss any of the details of the cross-examinations.

Things went well.

As many of you know, the next step is the crucial one. Our lawyers and the Board’s lawyers will square off before 3 judges on June 6 and 7 in downtown Toronto at the Divisional Court.

This is a lawyer-against-lawyer event with no affiants involved. Our lawyers will request a decision before school ends. The public is welcome to listen with the caveat that the court will not tolerate any distractions of any kind.

 

Note: Save Local Schools is an independent community alliance that is not affiliated with Peterborough Needs PCVS.

A rally is being held in Peterborough, Saturday 12 May, as part of a province-wide protest being promoted by Save Local Schools.

The local rally will take place in Confederation Park, across from City Hall. Everyone who is concerned about school closings is invited to attend the event, which will include live performances and speakers.

Activities get under way promptly at 12 noon, and will continue throughout the afternoon.

While the effort to save PCVS is a local focus, the protest is province-wide. The organizers want to send a message to Premier McGuinty, Education Minister Broten, and Queen’s Park about widespread dissatisfaction with school closure policies. The day is being marked by a number of communities across the province.

According to the media release for the protest, “The message is LOUD and CLEAR: the School Closure Process, which purports to be a community consultation, a process which is funded by our tax dollars, is severely flawed.”

See the group’s website for more details, including fact sheets and poster templates.

May 12 Rally

The May 12 SLS Entertainment Committee is looking for help to get some great performers that are sympathetic to the cause of preserving our great local schools that are so important to keeping Peterborough vibrant:

We have the talent from PCVS pretty much taken care of. We need your connections. Is Gordon Lightfoot coming to Ptbo to see his mother? Is Neil Young dropping by Omemee to see his old buddy? Maybe it’s just a hop for them to drop by on Saturday and perform a short set. I know you guys know people. Help us get the word out to performers in Ptbo and beyond. We need great performances, and maybe a name or two to really sell this and get the crowds out. Thanks for your assistance. We know we can count on you!

If you think you can be of assistance in this regard feel free to contact them at pcvsfilm@gmail.com

 

Update on PCVS Legal Challenge

Save PCVS
April 27, 2012

We have some good news for PCVS supporters regarding our legal challenge to overturn the decision to close PCVS.

Our lawyers have been in discussion with lawyers for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. Both law firms have proposed that we skip the injunction motion and move directly to judicial review.

The Peterborough Needs PCVS Co-ordinating Committee, which now includes all affiants and applicants in the legal case, has agreed unanimously with this direction. This would mean that our case would be heard by three judges in a divisional court in Toronto in early June. At this hearing, our lawyers will request that the court render its decision as soon as possible, in the hopes that it will be issued before the end of the school year.

Some Background

As many of you know, the legal case was originally to be a two-part process.

The first part would have our lawyers request an interlocutory injunction that, if successful, would prevent the Board from implementing its decision to close PCVS pending the outcome of the judicial review. An injunction is decided by one judge and requires that we establish, among other things, irreparable harm that outweighs any inconvenience to the Board.

Injunctions are very hard to get. An injunction does not address the merits of a decision (the decision to close PCVS).

Had we been successful in winning an injunction, we then would have proceeded to the judicial review phase, which is heard by the Divisional Court in front of three judges who have experience in the area of judicial reviews. Judicial reviews focus on procedural fairness and natural justice.

Should we be successful at this stage, the judges would, in the best case scenario, overturn the decision to close PCVS. This would revert the situation back to pre-2011 ARC and would likely elicit another closure review in Peterborough.

Why we support going directly to the judicial review phase:

  1. this is ultimately what we want and where we will need to go eventually.
  2. we do not wish to prolong the process unnecessarily and wish to expedite the legal case as quickly as possible in the best interests of students, staff and the community.
  3. eliminating the injunction phase saves money in legal costs and eliminates the first opportunity to be exposed to an award of costs should we lose our bid for an injunction.
  4. because both law firms agreed on moving directly to judicial review, this may limit our liability as it could reduce the likelihood of a large award of costs should we be unsuccessful.
  5. we will have the benefit of three senior and experienced judges hearing our case.

Finally, we always hoped for a judicial review where the decision could be overturned. We now have this opportunity.

A Model Campaign

The community of PCVS supporters has been extraordinary in its commitment, perseverance and unparalleled generosity. We would never be where we are now without your support. One faculty member at Trent suggested that our campaign should be studied as a model grassroots campaign and we have been repeatedly complimented for our measured, cohesive and reasoned approach. This is not a compliment to a few people but to a community of people.

Fundraising

We have placed every dollar raised for our legal challenge in a trust fund held by LLF. We have suspended further fundraising at this point as we believe we have the funds to finance the judicial review.

Celebration

Please mark 10 June on your calendar. We’re having a celebration of PCVS at Market Hall. Details to follow.

 

Hand-painted lawn signs are available [both large and small]. If you would like a sign, or would like your sign upgraded to a larger sign, please email Jeff Cox at jcox@brantbasics.com with your name and address. The sign crew would like to have all available signs installed by Sunday, April 29.

Small Schools Save Money $$$

 

Supporters are encouraged to continue to donate (unused funds will be returned to donors of $100 or more on a prorated basis). A meeting to provide an update and overview of the legal proceedings for supporters will be held in the coming weeks. Funds donated to support the legal proceedings will be held in a protected trust account, and an independent accounting firm will be appointed to undertake a financial review of all fundraising, donations and expenditures at the conclusion of the legal proceedings. The financial review will be made available to all donors.

Media release available.

Thanks to an overwhelming response from generous supporters who want to retain Peterborough Collegiate & Vocational School (PCVS) as a fully functional downtown high school, the Peterborough Needs PCVS Committee has identified sufficient financial resources to move forward with an application for an injunction and judicial review of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board’s decision to close PCVS at the end of this school year.

After consulting with students, parents and numerous others impacted by the proposed closure of PCVS, including a recent meeting attended by more than 300 public school ratepayers, the Peterborough Needs PCVS Committee will file the necessary application and motions in the Ontario courts.

Peterborough Needs PCVS regrets the necessity for legal action, which is divisive, costly and adversarial. The committee and others have repeatedly urged the Board to work with the community in exploring alternatives to closing PCVS, which is too valuable to lose — for students, for Peterborough’s downtown, and for the entire community. The Board has not responded to the suggestion of a consultative and collaborative community solution, leaving PCVS supporters with no alternative but to ask the courts to review the closure process and overturn the decision.

At the meeting of supporters on April 4, the advisability and costs of recourse to the courts was considered. In less than a week’s time support for this course of action was overwhelmingly reflected by the receipt of the required financial resources to proceed. It is expected that counsel for the applicants, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP will file be filing in the immediate future.

© 2011 Peterborough Needs PCVS Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha