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CJ To Rule Soon in St. John’s Saga


It’s now up to Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett to decide if the parents of 26 former St. John’s College students will be awarded thousands of dollars in damage after the Anglican Central Education Authority (ACEA) cancelled this year’s graduating class’ prom and graduation after lawyers for both the defense and plaintiffs made their closing submissions on Tuesday.

During his considerations Sir Michael will examine arguments put forth by both sides as to whether or not the ACEA is in breach of an alleged contract it had with St. John’s College students when it cancelled the remaining school events, if there was even a contract or was the school board within its right to call off prom and graduation.

In court yesterday lead attorney for the defense Krystal Rolle argued that there was no contract signed between the two parties and that the document the students and their parents signed off on, pledged that the students would abide by all school rules, ultimately agreeing that the school’s decision on any matter was final.

She also told the court that the word graduation referred to an actual ceremony but according to rules in the St. John’s handbook, 12th grade students who meet the requirements are entitled to receiving a diploma and not a ceremony.

She told the court that hosting a commencement exercise is not automatic and that the school cannot be contracted to do so.

The ACEA also cited nine reasons in its affidavit as to why they cancelled the events and one of them was that the students were told not to participate in a ditch day.

But when asked if there is evidence to prove that the students were warned, the attorney told the chief justice that there is none.

Lawyer for the students and their parents Christina Galanos during her closing submissions was questioned by Sir Michael as to why the ACEA should be found in breach of the alleged contract given the fact that the document clearly states that the school board can exclude any student from the final activities even without evidence proving they disobeyed school rules.

Ms. Galanos argued that it is dangerous to punish an entire class in that way and told Sir Michael that each student signed an individual agreement with the school and should be dealt with individually.

The chief justice agreed that it might be dangerous, hard and “unsympathetic” in the eyes of some but according to the wording of the document signed it was in the school’s discretion to make such decisions and only that it can not do so arbitrarily.

Ms. Galanos however raised issue with the fact that the defense often referred to a policy manual that guided school rules but she says it is a document the parents and students never knew existed.

But the chief justice said the onus was on them to find out about it.

The plaintiff’s lawyer said even after the students were accused of neglecting their end of the bargain the school continued to receive monies from them for prom and graduation and then still turned around and cancelled both events.

She said if the court rules that there was no contract then she wants her clients to be awarded for damage for being denied pleasure and enjoyment and legitimate expectation – because they, like everyone who completes 12th grade, legitimately expects to have a prom and graduation.

No word yet on when the chief justice will hand down his ruling.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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