In Paynter v. School District No. 61, 2022 BCSC 1671 , Farris associate, Nicholas Vaartnou, successfully represented school trustee Robert Paynter in a judicial review proceeding at the BC Supreme Court.
In February 2022, Mr. Paynter was effectively removed from his elected office as a school trustee of the Board of Education of School District 61 through an indefinite suspension made by a majority vote of the school board. The board’s decision raised a novel issue as to whether the board had the jurisdiction to indefinitely suspend one of its own trustees pursuant to the School Act. As the School Act did not expressly provide the school board with this type of suspension power, the board argued that it had the implied authority to act as it did. The court agreed with Mr. Paynter’s position that the School Act comprised a complete code as to how a school trustee may be removed from office, such that the school board acted outside its jurisdiction in suspending Mr. Paynter. The court’s decision provides a helpful guide regarding the limits of the authority granted to local elected officials to discipline their colleagues.