Brown's Flat, Lorne Middle school closures quashed

A provincial court judge has thrown a wrinkle into plans by the Department of Education to close two schools in southern New Brunswick.

Court of Queen's Bench has overruled the decision to close 2 Saint John-area schools

Brown's Flat Elementary School will remain open after a judge quashed the government's decision to close it. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

A provincial court judge has upset plans by the Department of Education to close two schools in southern New Brunswick.

Kelly Lamrock, the lawyer for parents fighting to keep the schools open, announced the ruling on Twitter on Friday afternoon.

Lamrock tweeted that "as of right now, it's as if closure decision never happened."

The decision applies to Brown's Flat Elementary School and Lorne Middle School.

Justice Darrell Stephenson said in his decision that it was not reasonable for the education minister to accept the district education council's decision to close the schools because the process "was clearly non-compliant" with department policy.

The decision orders the matter back to the desk of Education Minister Serge Rousselle who said the department needs more time to review. Rousselle referred specifically to a section of the ruling in which Stephenson says,"I am not prepared to order the school be kept open." 

But the lawyer representing parents in the case says it would be nearly impossible to close the schools this year.

"As of today, both are open schools.The province has a policy that would prohibit them from being closed in two weeks, unless this government is heroically stubborn."

In March, the Anglophone South School District recommended the closure of Lorne Middle School, which has about 50 students. The provincial government accepted the district's recommendation.

In late April, it was announced Brown's Flatt, a K-5 school with 43 students, would be closed and the students would have to take a bus to Grand Bay Primary, 22 kilometres away.

Parents took the provincial government to court in August.

The judge said the minister failed to comply with the province's policy on school closures.

Lamrock argued the review process was not followed, noting it was shortened and that the reasons for closing the school were not given.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the judge ordered that both schools remain open. In fact the judge said that decision ultimately belongs to the government.
    Aug 28, 2015 5:54 PM AT

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