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Judges reserve decision in Catholic school appeal
Wednesday marked the Good Spirit School Division’s turn to present their arguments in the appeal case regarding a judge’s ruling that non-Catholic students shouldn’t be funded to go to Catholic schools in Saskatchewan.
The Yorkton-based school division agreed with the ruling in the province’s Court of Appeal, arguing public schools have a mandate to accept and accommodate all students and claims that the Catholic schools don’t share the exact same mandate.
The matter began in 2003 when the Good Spirit School Division decided to bus students from the village of Theodore to the town of Springside, which is located approximately 17 kilometres southeast along Highway 16.
The school division cited low enrolment numbers at Theodore’s school as the reason for the change.
The community then established a Catholic school, known as St. Theodore School.
The students in the community still attend that school, but the school division filed a lawsuit saying the school was not established for religious reasons, but rather to keep students from having to bus to Springside.
Saskatchewan’s Attorney General responded to Good Spirit’s argument by saying the government is in charge of education in the province and in this case the government has increased attendance rights.
The Attorney General also says it is not appropriate to ask someone what their religious beliefs are in order to attend school.
The decision in the case will be precedent-setting for all non-Catholic students who attend Catholic schools in Saskatchewan, but its effects could also impact students in other provinces.
School boards from Ontario and Alberta also presented arguments over the last two days of testimony.
After arguments from Good Spirit wrapped up late Wednesday afternoon, the five justices overseeing the appeal decided to reserve their decision, which will be delivered at a later date.
Based on a report by CTV Regina's Cally Stephanow