Court clamps down on B.C. school fees

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B.C. school districts cannot charge students for any materials or equipment required to finish a course leading to graduation, the province’s Supreme Court has ruled.

Such fees, as well as charges for field trips considered necessary to the curriculum, contravene the B.C. School Act, the court said in a judgment issued Friday.

There was no indication of when the ruling will take effect or whether fees paid this year will be returned to students.

The B.C. School Act forbids schools to charge fees for necessary educational resource materials, but a ministerial order said districts may charge fees.

John Young, a Greater Victoria School Board trustee, filed the suit against the government seeking a provincewide ban on school fees after winning an earlier challenge that forced the Victoria board to halt the practice in 1997.

Young has long maintained the extra charges contravened the act and created a two-tiered education system.

Province reviews ruling

“All of these other school boards are charging all kinds of fees, sometimes up to $1,100 or $1,200 for various courses, all of which are strictly illegal,” Young told CBC News.

“You cannot teach cooking without food, therefore the food has to be supplied by the school board. You cannot teach chemistry without chemicals, and the chemicals have to be supplied by the school board,” he said.

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