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N.L. school board spent $682K battling human rights complaint filed by deaf child

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s English school board spent nearly $700,000 on the unsuccessful challenge of a human rights complaint filed on behalf of a deaf boy.

Documents obtained by the boy’s father and shared with The Canadian Press today show the school board racked up $681,917 in legal bills to fight the complaint after it was filed in 2017.

The list of invoices shows the board spent nearly $494,000 last year alone as the case came before a tribunal in St. John’s, N.L.

The province’s human rights commission ruled in March that the board had discriminated against Carter Churchill, who is now 12, between 2016 and 2020, from kindergarten to Grade 3.

The ruling says Newfoundland and Labrador English School District failed to provide adequate supports for Carter, who is non-verbal and has cerebral palsy, and those failures caused him “irreparable damage,” including a significant language delay.

The boy’s father, Todd Churchill, says it’s “appalling and disgusting” that the board spends so much on lawyers while children like Carter are left behind.

“Instead of just acknowledging it was a problem, resolving the problem, fixing the problem, they decided they were going to go on this nuclear option of trying to beat us down at all costs,” he said in an interview.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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