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Challenge to closures could be long, expensive, pointless

Challenge to school closures and mergers could be long, expensive and ultimately, of no purpose, UC expert says

February 18, 2013

If schools challenged the Minister of Education’s decision to close and merge Christchurch schools it could potentially be long, expensive and, ultimately, of no purpose for the effected schools, University of Canterbury’s Head of Law Associate Professor Chris Gallavin said today.

The mechanism employed to challenge the decisions announced today was called Judicial Review and unless the decision of the minister could be shown to be against the law then it was likely a positive finding in favour of a school would merely result in the minister being told to reconsider the decision, Professor Gallavin said.

``This would likely mean that a minister would make the same decision making sure that the procedural error of the first decision was fixed. It is highly unlikely that the closing of any of the schools in question could be shown to have been without authority as, on the face of it, such a decision falls squarely within the realm of the Minister of Education.

``At best, a judicial finding in favour of a school would merely grant that school a reprieve from closer rather than exemption from the process.

``However, given the changeable climate of politics such a reprieve may provide room for an effective campaign to change the minister’s mind on the issue. Such a move by the minister would likely be interpreted as a backdown and, on this basis, the chances of success for such a school is probably minimal,’’ Professor Gallavin said.

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced her interim decision today to merge 12 schools and close seven others in Christchurch.

ENDS

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