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It’s a case of fairness

My Nikkel's Worth column

The word came down from the Court of Queen’s Bench on Friday, that former Comp principal Wade Oberg won his lawsuit, and was reinstated as principal on the order of the court.

This brings closure (for now) to a long-standing matter, since Oberg was demoted and removed as the principal back in November of 2017 after an ill-fated trip by the senior girls volleyball team to a tournament in Saskatoon.

The issue was never about whether or not Oberg acted inappropriately at that tournament — he admitted as much, and was remorseful for what he did.

The issue came down to being treated unfairly by the Cornerstone School Division, and the justice sided with Oberg. The justice said Oberg was not given reasons why the board upheld the first decision to demote him, they did not tell him what the allegations were against him, and worst of all, levied a punishment that did not fit the crime.

Justice McCreary noted in her judgment that the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board held their own investigation of the matter, and “concluded that a significantly less serious penalty was the appropriate disciplinary response” to Oberg’s actions.

Basically, the justice quashed the decisions made by the board as void and unreasonable, and said it was pointless to refer the matter back to the board for reconsideration. The justice said it was “inevitable” that Oberg should be reinstated as the principal, and ordered that this be the case without remitting it back to the board.

As a layman looking at the wording of this judgment, I get the idea that this justice feels that Oberg was not only unfairly treated, but the school board can’t be trusted to act properly so the justice reinstated him, going over their heads, so to speak.

I could be wrong in thinking that, but it’s the sense I get when I read the words. It was quite clear that the justice did not feel that Oberg got a fair shake in any way by the school board, which one would think was egregious when you consider he gave 27 years in unblemished service.

As the justice pointed out, a single incident cannot wipe out a 27-year career as an educator and an administrator, 25 of those years here.

I recall interviewing former trustee Warren Betker about the board’s decision, which he felt strongly enough about to step down as a trustee, forcing a byelection.

It’s hard to believe that the board could act in such an unfair way, and to be stubborn about it by upholding the decision which was unfair in its own right.

As of this writing, the school division’s legal counsel is reviewing the decision, so we don’t know what their next step will be — but as far as I can see, there is only one real response that should be made.

In all fairness, they should allow the reinstatement to stand, or else recompense Oberg. They were in the wrong, and a Court of Queen’s Bench justice said so, eloquently. They may well appeal the decision, using taxpayers dollars in the process — but would that be fair? Really?