Mum ordered to pay school $25,000 over cannabis case

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 15/07/2014

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A mother who challenged her son's expulsion for smoking marijuana during school hours has been ordered to pay the school more than $25,000.

The Palmerston North Boys' High School student, then 16, was suspended and subsequently expelled by the board of trustees' disciplinary committee last December.

In the High Court in May, Justice Alan MacKenzie dismissed the application for judicial review, saying he was satisfied the board's decision was made appropriately.

Police caught the boy, who was dressed in uniform but not on school grounds, smoking marijuana with a group of other students.

The mother had suggested her son not be suspended, but subjected to random drug-testing, but school rector David Bovey refused.

The school's legal costs of $25,220 would now have to be paid by the mother.

John Reardon, the lawyer representing the school, said costs ordered were "typically somewhere around half of the total costs".

The cost of going to court was especially tough in cases where schools and parents were involved, he said.

"When you're the defendant, there's not much choice in this.

"Schools are not businesses. Parents and school boards of trustees have to think carefully, even if they're unhappy about a decision, whether they're going to appeal."

The costs come on the back of another High Court battle between a secondary school and a student.

Justice David Collins ruled in favour of Lucan Battison, 16, who successfully fought to keep his long hair after being suspended from St John's College in Hastings for refusing to have it cut.

Last week Collins ordered the school to pay more than $24,000 in costs to the Battison family.

Reardon said he was curious whether the St John's College decision would prompt more parents to seek a judicial review in disciplinary cases.

Bovey was pleased the decision went in the school's favour. "People looking to go to judicial review need to understand that it's a serious and expensive cost."

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- The Dominion Post

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