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Religion and Education Case Law

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Jordan Gallant

on 19 October 2012

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Transcript of Religion and Education Case Law

Mr. Elmer Wiebe was taken to court because he chose to send his son (between September 1st, and October 21st, 1977) to the Knee Hill Christian School, which not a school sanctioned by his district.

Mr Wiebe was accused under the Education Act for not ensuring that his son went to an approved school or had seen that he was given special permission to attend a private school by the governing school board. There was also no need for special instruction or a safety issue with Mr. Wiebe’s son that would require he be placed in a different school. Jordan Gallant
Rebecca Steeves
Will McKinley
Maggie Stephenson
Lieneke den Otter Respondent Attorney
Robert Chandler Applicants
Peter R. Jervis Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Mennonite, and Christian Reform Bal V. Ontario Walsh and Newfoundland Teachers’ Association V. Newfoundland (Treasury Board) and Federation of School Boards of Newfoundland Ross v. New Brunswick School District 15 Ontario (minority faith group) Regina v. Wiebe The parents wanted their children
to attend an Alternate School
that is a public school where
their religious practices are
taught and accepted. Policy Memorandum 112 that says religion in public schools must
not focus on one religions belief and must not favor a particular religious faith.

Jervis argued that this infringed
upon their right to freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of expression and freedom of equality under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Knee Hill Christian School was funded privately by the Mennonite community, and had not been approved as an acceptable school by the governing school board though they had asked to be reviewed for approval.

Mr. Wiebe’s defense was based on the Alberta Bill of Rights, which holds more weight in court then the Education Act, and which required any legislation to be applied in ways that did not discriminate.

The only time this could be overruled was if the government had used the“notwithstanding clause” from the Charter that allows the government to overlook rights when used; but this was not used. Who do you think won? Chandler explained that the provincial government gives this funding not the board of education.

The Education Act States that schools are to be secular and does not impose certain religious conditions to one person and not another.

Since it was religion that was the reason the parents wanted a separate public school for their children there is no discrimination since this is not offered to any religious group. The Crown? Mr. Wiebe? This led Attis to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada Thumbs up if you think Attis was successful in his appeal Thumbs down if you think the decision would stand Was the board's decision upheld? Yes No Mr. Wiebe did, since it was discriminatory, based on the Alberta Bill of Rights, for Mr. Wiebe not to be able to send his son to a school that upheld his Mennonite beliefs that were shown to be strongly connected to education. The Alberta Bill of Rights won out over the Education Act because the notwithstanding clause was not used to dismiss the rights that the Bill offered Mr. Wiebe and his son. The original case occurred in 1994. In 1997 it was appealed and went to the Supreme Court of Canada. Here the Judge decided that this case was about funding, not discrimination and dismissed the case. Teachers can learn from this that even though the education act holds special requirements, they can be contested if they conflict with a more important document like the Bill or Rights or the Charter. When the religion someone holds is tightly connected to their education, they can attend a religious private school even when it is not approved by the school board. Malcolm Ross, a teacher in District 15, made public statements outside the classroom that were anti-Semitic (on counts of race and religion), thus affecting the experience of Jewish children within the school and ‘poisoning’ the school atmosphere, according to parent David Attis who filed a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Council. Why is this case important?

It helps teachers understand that we need to have an open mind and not discriminate against other religions. 1) Ross was placed on a leave of absence without pay for a period of 18 months;

2) Ross would be appointed to a non-teaching position, if one became available during that period;

3) Ross’ employment would be terminated at the end of that period if, in the interim, he had not been offered and accepted a non-teaching position; and

4) Ross’ employment with the school board would be terminated immediately if he published or wrote anti-Semitic materials or sold his previous publications any time during the leave of absence period or at any time during his employment in a non-teaching position. A teacher, Richard Walsh, was
employed by the Roman Catholic
School Board in St. John’s, NL. Ross appealed to the New Brunswick Court of Appeals and succeeded in having all four clauses overturned. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the New Brunswick Court of Appeals and reinstated the first three disciplinary actions against Ross, who was removed from a teaching position. Key Points
a teacher’s actions outside the school can still affect the educational environment.
teachers are in positions of trust and have a duty to speak and act responsibly at all times.
school boards must take a teacher’s off-duty activities into account when performing evaluations When hired, Walsh was a member of the Roman Catholic church. During his employment, he joined the Salvation Army church and was subsequently married in that denomination. He was then dismissed by the school board. Walsh appealed this decision with the school board and was denied, citing that dismissal is warranted when “there is gross misconduct, insubordination or neglect of duty or any other similar just cause” Manuela Cassagrande was a qualified teacher who had never been married. Following an interview in June, 1983 she was hired to teach French at a Catholic separate school in Hinton.

The School Board established a policy or philosophy which required teachers employed by it to follow a lifestyle consistent with the teachings and the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church so as to provide a positive role model for the students.
After giving consideration to the possibility of termination of Casagrande’s contract, the Board decided to give the her maternity leave.

At the time of the granting of maternity leave, a Board member and the Superintendent of Schools warned Casagrande verbally and in writing that any further premarital sexual intercourse on her part would result in dismissal.

Following the birth of her child early in 1984, Casagrande resumed her teaching duties. In the fall of 1984 she was awarded a permanent teaching position. Walsh and the Newfoundland Teacher’s Association (N.T.A.) then brought this issue to the court, claiming that the school board had broken the law, that this was wrongful dismissal.
She then applied for an extended leave of absence which was also refused. The School Board, at the time of the refusal of the extended leave of absence, decided to give her notice of termination of her employment and to hold a hearing with respect to the termination.

Following the hearing at which Casagrande and her representative were given an opportunity to be heard, the Respondent decided to terminate the her contract of employment. Casagrande appealed to the Board of Reference. This appeal was dismissed. The Board of Reference found that her dismissal was due to a lifestyle incongruent with the philosophies of the Roman Catholic Church. She was not dismissed because of the pregnancy.

The Board of Reference also found that Catholic doctrine prohibited sexual intercourse outside of marriage and that such a rule applied equally to male and female teachers.

The Board of Reference held that a Catholic School Board has the constitutional right to terminate a contract of employment of a teacher who had engaged in conduct prohibited by Catholic teaching and doctrine. This was not a violation of s.8 of the Human Rights Code because the school had already established the philosophies associated with the Roman Catholic Church and because they were a Separate school. This case is extremely important to us as teachers. If you are teaching at religious school, which has their own denominational schoolboard, and does not receive funding from the government; they have their own set of standards that employees must adhere to. Casagrande v. Hinton Roman Catholic Separate School District The court dismissed this appeal stating that Walsh had put himself in the position that he could no longer competently perform his duties as a teacher for this school board. He had been hired under the impression that he would teach religious education, and was no longer fit to do so. Do you think that the parent's argument under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should allow them to receive funding for an Alternate School? Intro Key Points
and Questions Religion and Education Jordan Gallant- Regina v. Wiebe Rebecca Steeves- Bal v. Ontario Will Mckinley- Ross v. New Brunswick School District 15 Maggie Stephenson- Walsh and Newfoundland Teachers Association v. Newfoundland (Treasury Board) and Federation of School Boards of Newfoundland Lieneke den Otter- Casagrande v. Hinton Roman Catholic Separate School District ... small THE END Who do you think won? The School Board? Mr. Walsh? Why is this case important? In August of 1985, she discovered that she was pregnant. She again waited until after the beginning of the first term to apply for maternity leave. She was told this would not be considered.
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