In 1988 and 1989, the Roman Catholic School Board for Conception Bay Centre had notified parents and discussed with them the possible consolidation of schools including the school in question. The parents voted not to close the school. During the next two years there were communications with the parents but no discussion lead them to believe that the Board was considering closing the school until the matter was raised in 1991. In April 1991, a Board member gave notice of motion that she would move at the next public meeting that the school be closed in the summer of 1992. No notice was sent to the parents. At the meeting an amendment to the original motion was allowed fixing the closing as of the end of the 1991 school year. The decision was made to close the school in 1991.
The Department of Education had issued guidelines to be followed in cases of planned consolidations and closing, including a process of consultation and timeframes. These guidelines had not been followed in this case. The parents sought a review of the decision based on the lack of opportunity for public input which constituted a breach of the duty of procedural fairness.
- Was there a breach of procedural fairness?
Application granted; decision quashed and matter remitted for reconsideration.
Justice Wells, after discussing the need to find any entitlement to procedural fairness in the common law, held that the actions of the Board in 1988-89 in making consultations, in addition to other communications with the parents, could only have the effect of creating an impression of a system which allowed for procedural fairness. As a result, certiorari was available to him, and he set aside the order for reconsideration.
Anyone who is aware of previous consultative practices can rely on those legitimate expectations of procedural fairness.
This decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal, finding that some of those deposed had no belief that the previous procedure would be followed in this instance.