Expelled student wins suit against Calgary school
Girl accused of having sex in washroom during school dance
A Calgary family has won a lawsuit against a prestigious high school that expelled a student for allegedly having sex at a dance.
The family of Julia Oram sued Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School in Okotoks, Alta., outside Calgary after she was expelled in December 2006.
The school had accused her of having sex with her boyfriend in the washroom of the Calgary Golf and Country Club during a school dance.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Alan Macleod issued his written decision on Thursday.
"[The] defendants were motivated to take rapid action to protect the school's reputation," Macleod said in the ruling. "Fairness to Julia cannot be sacrificed to that goal. Her expulsion was a miscarriage of justice."
The judge cited the fact that Oram, then 16, was never given a chance to tell her side of the story.
He also pointed out her expulsion was only based on information from one witness — a relative of former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed — who reported Oram and her boyfriend were involved in an inappropriate act.
Macleod said he didn't believe the two were having sex.
He went on to say that both the head of the school and its principal were unduly influenced by the witness's standing at the country club and in the community.
School reviewing discipline practices
The school was ordered to pay $40,000 to Oram for emotional damages and more than $17,000 to her parents for tuition they lost after the girl was expelled.
Julia's father, Carl Oram, told CBC News the family is happy with the outcome.
He said his daughter wasn't having sex but was throwing up, having had too much to drink. Her boyfriend was trying to help clean her up.
He stressed that the matter was about principle and that the family would have been satisfied with an apology but school officials refused.
In the hopes of resurrecting his daughter's reputation, he said he felt he had no choice but to sue.
William Jones, head of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, declined to be interviewed but did release a statement.
"We respect the judge's ruling and have already begun the process of reviewing our policies and practices regarding student discipline and expulsion," the statement said.