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Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island
A former vice-principal at Donagh Regional School who was removed from her administrative duties has lost her fight with the former Eastern School District in P.E.I.’s courts.
Jo-Anne Lanigan claimed damages for breach of employment contract, wrongful dismissal and refusal to hire her for vice-principal or guidance counselor positions, but a P.E.I. Supreme Court judge declined to hear the case.
Lanigan appealed and in a unanimous decision the P.E.I. Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling.
In the appeal decision released today, Justice John Mitchell wrote that P.E.I.’s supreme court has no jurisdiction to hear the case because the collective bargaining agreement has a binding dispute resolution mechanism.
Lanigan was the former vice-principal at Donagh Regional School in 2009-2010 until an issue arose between her and the parents of a special needs child.
The school board removed her from her duties as vice-principal after she wrote letters to the parents in response to comments they made that she considered to be defamatory.
Lanigan tried to file a grievance with the P.E.I. Teachers’ Federation, but the time period for filing had expired.
Although Justice Wayne Cheverie, who made the initial decision, ruled the supreme court had jurisdiction to hear the case, he declined to do so.
Mitchell wrote that Cheverie made an error of law and the court did not have jurisdiction.
The collective bargaining agreement sets out the grievance procedure and allowing the case to proceed in the courts would undermine the legislative scheme set up in the School Act, Mitchell wrote.
He also wrote that the grievance review board has the power to grant “full and effective remedy.”
In dismissing the appeal the appeal judges ordered Lanigan to pay $10,000 in costs.