Parents in K-W, upset and no doubt at wit's end, are taking to small-claims courts to seek justice (retribution?) for what they claim is inaction on the part of local school boards to address their concerns with bullying.
Since a Kitchener mother sued the Catholic board in January over bullying against her son — the suit, believed to be a first in Ontario, was settled out of court — many parents have come forward with similar complaints.I'm not sure what to think about this just yet. While Shewchuck makes a reference to people with dollar signs in their eyes, some of the cases cited (and I'm no lawyer) appear to provide an opportunity to address a lack of action or a protocol/procedure that wasn't being followed. At the same time, this tool should be the one of last resort, no?
Hundreds have joined a Facebook group formed by another local mother, where they’re given advice on how to use Small Claims Court to sue, at a cost to the plaintiffs of as little as $75.
John Shewchuk, senior manager of public affairs for the Catholic school board, said school officials are worried the case, at Canadian Martyrs school in Kitchener, has opened the floodgates for similar lawsuits against schools. They want the Ontario Attorney General to intervene to prevent an onslaught of legal action. School officials will raise the issue with the province once the March break is over.
“We want to raise an alarm bell with the government . . . we think they’ve got a little bit of a problem on their hands,” Shewchuk said. “You can just see the herd coming over the hill. You’re going to find more people who quite frankly just don’t like the answer they got, so they’re saying ‘fine, I’m going to sue you.’ ”
Only one of the three latest lawsuits filed in Small Claims Court is against the Catholic board. In that case, parents of an eight-year-old autistic girl allege that St. Teresa Catholic School in Kitchener has failed to protect her from bullies and give her the specialized, in-school therapy they believe she needs.
We already live in an increasingly litigious society (though still far less litigious than our neighbours to the south), do we really need to add this fear of small claims court to the mix? This shows a failure of a lot of things around the bullied child (inside and outside school), and other than getting the board's attention in a judicial forum, I don't know what a small-claims suit actually does to help the bullied child recover and ensure the bully and bystanders are given a consequence for their actions and/or inactions.