UPDATE: Minister David Eggen has responded to the decision, noting that it is not a final determination on the merits of the case. He adds that the province stands behind its actions to date.
The Court of Queen’s Bench in Grande Prairie has granted an interim injunction to the Trinity Christian School Association. Justice E.J. Simpson made the decision Friday, with the exception of restoring its funding from the province.
The school had its registration and accreditation cancelled on October 25th due to alleged financial misconduct. Trinity’s lawyer Jay Cameron says the school was closed without notice.
“I think that there’s precedent in cases where schools have been shut down, where the government looks at the situation and they think that there’s a legitimate problem, they discuss; they make notice; they allow opportunities to respond, and then if there’s a legitimate problem they close the school down the road.
In addition to a 13 student school in Cold Lake, Trinity oversees the education of 3,500 home-schooled children across the province. Many live in the Grande Prairie area and overflowed the courtroom in support.
In his announcement, David Eggen blamed a conflict of interest, and inappropriate expenses like babysitting and funerals found in an audit. It also found that third party Wisdom Home School Society had kept nearly a million dollars in unclaimed parent funding over the past three years. Cameron argues the province was aware of their relationship.
“And has been since 1997. Wisdom was incorporated at the behest of the province in 1997. The province has approved of Wisdom’s handling of funds by letter, most recently of December 10th, 2012, and these records were not included in the province’s report, and they should have been.”
The Crown’s lawyer, Marta Burns, declined to comment.
Justice E.J. Simpson says he made his decision with the best interests of the students and taxpayers in mind. Other than the lack of government funding, operations will return to the status quo until the next court date of January 5th.