With files from www.opencatholiceducation.ca
Since 2005, the “Theodore Court Case” has been winding its way through Saskatchewan’s judicial system. The case concerns a Catholic elementary school in Theodore, 40 kilometres northwest of Yorkton, St. Theodore Roman Catholic School. Prior to 2003, it was a public school known as Theodore School and was scheduled to be closed.
Historically, about 30 – 40 per cent of the school’s students were Catholic. Since Catholic schools are protected under the Canadian Constitution, the Catholic community petitioned the government to form the Theodore Roman Catholic School Division. A new Catholic school division was formed that purchased the school building and re-opened it as St. Theodore Roman Catholic School.
Public school advocates filed a legal complaint in Queen’s Bench Court and asked the court to, among other things, consider whether it was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the government to fund non-Catholic students in the newly re-opened St. Theodore School.
Initially, they also argued that the creation of the new Catholic school division after the closure of Theodore Public School did not meet the criteria of being a separate school because it was serving more non-Catholics than Catholic students. It was alleged that the Catholic school division was created merely as a means of preventing the public school from closing.
Since then, they have broadened the case to challenge the content of the constitutional rights of the Catholic minority in Saskatchewan.
In April 2017, Mr. Justice Donald Layh rendered his decision which held that The Constitution Act, 1867 does not provide a constitutional right to separate schools in Saskatchewan to receive provincial government funding respecting non-Catholic students.
Further, he concluded that the province is violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms if it continues to fund non-Catholic students in Catholic schools.
Impact on families
If the April 2017 court decision is upheld or left unchecked by the Government of Saskatchewan, it would:
-Deny the right of Catholic schools to admit non-Catholic students.
-Threaten the ability of parents to choose where their children learn.
-Limit the education options of non-Catholic parents for their children.
-Force non-Catholic parents to fund the costs of their children’s education if they choose to enroll in a Catholic school.
-Displace several thousand students and their families across Saskatchewan.
-Force Catholic school boards to discriminate based on religion.
Saskatchewan’s Catholic school divisions are appealing to have the decision overturned.
The Government of Saskatchewan has indicated that it will continue to fund non-Catholic students in Catholic schools no matter the court’s current or future decisions on the matter.
For more information please visit www.opencatholiceducation.ca.
Page URL: http://archregina.sk.ca/news/2019/04/03/open-catholic-education-giving-parents-choice