School District won’t appeal mercury ruling

School District 5 has decided not to appeal a Supreme Court decision granting a group of teachers a new compensation board hearing.

School District 5 has decided not to appeal a recent Supreme Court decision granting a group of Cranbrook teachers a new compensation board hearing.

The School District announced its decision Thursday in a press release, following a special meeting of the Board on Friday, Dec. 21.

Six Cranbrook teachers who claim they were poisoned by mercury during their time at Mount Baker Secondary School were granted a new court-ordered compensation board hearing by  Supreme Court Justice A. Saunders on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

On Dec. 4, Saunders said the decision handed down by the Worker’s Compensation Appeal Tribunal in September, 2010 was unfair.

“It was manifestly unfair to the petitioners,”  Saunders wrote in his ruling. “The panel’s conclusion was patently unreasonable in failing to weigh all of the relevant evidence and in imposing a requirement that mercury poisoning be proven, as that diagnosis would be made by physicians.”

Frank Lento, chair of the Board of Trustees, indicated that the ruling itself does not involve the school district.

“Strictly speaking the judge was dealing with the WCAT decision and how it was made,” Lento said. “The district’s responsibility in this matter was to determine if there was a safety concern and if so to properly address it. The board of the day did exactly that.”

Following the initial BCTF claim in 2006, SD5 undertook a $200,000 investigation into mercury at Mount Baker and completed the necessary upgrades to ensure the building’s continued safety. No concerns regarding mercury have since been reported.

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