Some Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows parents might be reimbursed summer school tuition fees.
Millions of dollars in tuition fees paid for academic summer school courses across the province in 2004, 2005, and 2006 will be refunded under a settlement reached in B.C. Supreme Court Friday.
Under the settlement, parents who paid tuition for summer school remedial and graduation completion courses will be mailed a claim form allowing them to choose either a 70-per-cent refund or a 100-per-cent credit toward tuition in other courses.
A 25-per-cent legal fee will be deducted and paid to Poyner Baxter LLP, which represented the plaintiffs.
This deal ends a class-action lawsuit against the Vancouver board of education started in 2009 by North Vancouver parent Sarah Riazi, who paid for her son to take science and English in a Vancouver summer school.
A similar class-action suit was launched by Coquitlam parent Debra Helem, who paid for her daughter to take a summer school math class. That suit named as defendants all of the school boards in British Columbia who charged tuition fees for summer school courses leading to graduation.
In each case, the plaintiff argued that charging fees for these courses was illegal in B.C. Both cases were settled Friday.
In all, 20 districts have agreed to make refunds to the thousands of families who paid tuition fees for high-school students to take academic courses.
Irena Pochop, communications manager for the local school district said legally, they can only confirm there’s a court-approved settlement agreement, and that “we will of course be implementing that agreement in accordance with its terms.”
Clause 17 of the settlement states that “no statement or press release of any kind will be made to the public regarding this settlement without the prior written approval of both parties.”
The Vancouver board of education’s secretary-treasurer, Rick Krowchuk, said the agreement could cost his district as much as $4 million, depending on how many people claim refunds and how many choose to take a credit toward a course instead.
The application to certify the class-action lawsuit was filed in 2009, two years after then-education minister Shirley Bond ordered school districts to stop charging tuition for students attending summer school for academic credit.
She said the fees – which ranged from $200 to $500 a course – were illegal. She ordered districts to refund all such fees in 2007.
The class-action suit argued that if the fees were illegal in 2007, they were also illegal in preceding years (subject to the statute of limitations).
- Tracy Sherlock is a reporter with the Vancouver Sun
@ Copyright 2013