No. 16

A.D. 1872.

An Act Respecting Public Schools.

[Assented to 11th April, 1872.]



WHEREAS it is expedient that provision should be made for the establishment, maintenance, and management of Public Schools throughout the Province of British Columbia:

Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:

Repeals School Ordinances.

  1. "The Common School Ordinance, 1869," and "The Common School Amendment Ordinance, 1870," are hereby respectively repealed.

Public School Fund.

  1. On the 1st day of April, A.D. 1872, there shall be set apart by the Officer in Charge of the Treasury for the time being, out of the General Revenue of the Province, the sum of forty thousand Dollars for Public Board purposes aforesaid, and the said sums of money shall be called the "Public School Fund."

Board of Education.

Appointment of Education Boards.

  1. The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may, by Letters Patent under the Public Seal of the Province, appoint six fit and proper persons to be a Board of Education for the Province of British Columbia, and the persons so appointed shall respectively hold office during the pleasure so appointed shall respectively hold office during the pleasure of the Lieutenant-Governor; in the event of any one or more of the persons so appointed resigning, dying, or being removed from office, the vacancy or vacancies so occasioned may be filled up by new appointments in manner aforesaid.


Appointment of Superintendent.

  1. The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint a Superintendent of Education for the Province of British Columbia, who shall be ex officio Chairman of the Board of Education, and such Superintendent shall hold office during the pleasure of the Lieutenant-Governor, and shall receive as an annual salary the sum of two thousand dollars, together with such additional allowance or remuneration as the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may grant for travelling expenses. And when and so often as a vacancy shall occur in the office of Superintendent, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint a fit and proper person to the office so vacated and such person shall hold office during the pleasure of the Lieutenant-Governor. Provided, always, that no person shall be eligible for Superintendent unless he has been an experienced and successful Teacher of at least five years’ standing, and holds a first class certificate from some College, School, or Board of Examination in some other Province or Country where a Public School system has been in operation.

School Districts.

Existing Districts.

  1. All School Districts existing at the date when this Act shall come into operation shall continue until altered as hereinafter provided.

New Districts.

  1. It shall be lawful for the Lieutenant-Governor in Council from time to time—

To create School Districts, in addition to those already existing, and to define the boundaries thereof, and from time to alter the boundaries of existing, or hereafter created, Districts. Provided that no School District shall be created wherein there shall not be at least fifteen children of school age, between five and sixteen years of age:

Waste Lands.

    1. To set apart in every School District such a quantity of the waste lands of the Crown as in his opinion may be necessary for school purposes in such District:

Money Grant.

  • To grant, on the application of the School Trustees of any such School District, indorsed by the Superintendent of Education, such sum or sums of money as may be required by them to pay the salary of the Teacher in such School District; to defray the cost of erecting a School House or providing a house or room within which the Public School of such District may be held; the cost of all furniture and apparatus necessary for the use of any such school, and the current expenses connected therewith.
  • Ditto.

  • To grant such sum as he shall think proper in aid of the establishment of a school in any part of the Province not being a School District, and not having less than seven, and not more than fourteen children, between the age of five and sixteen years, resident therein.

    Duties of Board of Education

    Defines duties of Education Board.

    1. It shall be the duty of the Board of Education—
    1. To meet not less than once in every three months, and they shall have the power to determine the times and places of their meetings, the order of their proceedings, and the manner of recording them:
  • To cause to be made and kept a proper record of their proceedings:
  • To adopt all such lawful means in their power, as they deem expedient, to advance the interests and usefulness of Public Schools:
  • To select, adopt, and prescribe a uniform series of text books to be used in the Public Schools of the Province, and to authorize the purchase and distribution thereof, by the Superintendent, among the different Public Schools, in such numbers and quantities as they may think fit:
  • To make and establish rules and regulations for the conduct of Public Schools:
  • To examine and give certificates of qualification to Teachers of Public Schools. Such certificates shall be of three classes, viz.:—a first class certificate, a second class certificate, and a third class certificate. A first class certificate shall be deemed good until revoked by the Board of Education; a second class certificate shall be deemed good for three years, and no longer; and a third class certificate shall be deemed good for one year, and no longer, unless renewed as hereinafter provided:
  • Every such certificate of qualification shall have the signature of at least three members of the Board of Education, but no such certificate shall be given to any Teacher who does not furnish satisfactory proof of good moral character:
  • To appoint the Teacher or Teachers, in any School District, and to fix the salary or salaries of such Teacher or Teachers; and, upon good cause shown, to remove the same:
  • To take charge of and keep safely all apparatus to be purchased as hereinafter provided for school purposes in this Province, and to furnish, on the application of the Trustees of any District, endorsed by the Superintendent of Education, such apparatus as may be required for the School or Schools in such District:
  • To purchase such apparatus as in their judgment may be necessary for the use of the Public Schools in the Province:
  • To establish a separate School for females in any District where they may deem it expedient to do so; and such School, when so established, may be presided over by a female Teacher or Teachers, but otherwise shall be subject to the same obligations and regulations as Public Schools generally under this Act:
  • To establish a High School in any District where they may deem it expedient so to do, wherein the classics, mathematics, and higher branches of Education shall be taught; and such school shall be subject to the same obligations and regulations as Public Schools generally:
  • At a meeting of the Board of Education three shall constitute a quorum for examining and giving certificates of qualification to Public School Teachers, and five shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of any other business.

    Duties of Superintendent

    Defines duties of Superintendent.

  • It shall be the duty of the Superintendent—
    1. To visit each Public School within his jurisdiction, once in each year at least, unless oftener required by the Board of Education, or for the adjustment of disputes:
  • To examine, at each yearly visit, the state and condition of the school, as respects the progress of the pupils in learning, the order and discipline observed, the system of instruction pursued, the mode of keeping the school registers, the average attendance of pupils, the character and condition of the buildings and premises, and to give such advice as he may judge proper:
  • To deliver, in each School District, at least once a year, a public lecture on some subject connected with the objects, principles, and means of practical education; and to do all in his power to persuade and animate parents, guardians, trustees, and teachers to improve the character and efficiency of the Public Schools, and to secure the sound education of the young generally:
  • To see that the schools are managed and conducted according to law, to prevent the use of unauthorized, and to recommend the use of authorized, books in each school:
  • To suspend the certificate of qualification of any Teacher granted by the Board of Education, for any cause which may appear to him to require it, until the next ensuing meeting of the Board of Education, of which meeting due notice shall be given by the said Superintendent to the Teacher suspended; and the Board of Education shall confirm or disallow the action of the Superintendent in suspending such Teacher, as a majority of the members of the Board present at such meeting shall think proper; and the cancellation or suspension of a Teacher’s certificate, when confirmed by the Board of Education, shall release the School Trustees of the District in which such Teacher may be employed from any obligation to continue to employ him as such Teacher:
  • To give any candidate, on due examination by him, according to the programme authorized for the examination of Teachers, a certificate of qualification to teach any school, the Teacher of which may have had his certificate of qualification suspended under the provisions of the next preceding clause, until (but no longer than) the next ensuing meeting of the Board of Education:
  • To make annually, on or before the 1st day of September, a report of the actual state of the Public Schools throughout the Province, showing the number of pupils taught in each School District, over the age of 5 years and under the age of 16, the branches taught and average attendance, the amount of moneys expended in connection with each school, the number of visits made by him, the salaries of Teachers, the number of qualified Teachers, their standing and sex, together with any other information that he may possess respecting the educational state and wants and advantages of each school and district in the Province, and such statements and suggestions for improving the Public Schools and school laws and promoting education generally, as he may deem useful and expedient:
  • To be responsible for all moneys paid through him on behalf of the Public Schools, and to give such security as the Lieutenant-Governor may require:
  • To prepare suitable forms and to give such instructions as he may judge necessary and proper for making all reports and conducting all proceedings under this Act, and to cause the same, with such general regulations as may be approved of by the Board of Education for the better organization and government of Public Schools, to be transmitted to the offers required to execute the provisions of this Act:
  • Within twenty days after any complaint shall be made to him respecting the mode of conducting any election of Trustees (as hereinafter provided for) to investigate such complaint and, according to the best of his judgment, confirm or set aside such election; and in the latter case he shall appoint the time and place for a new election in such District.

    School Trustees

    Number of Trustees.

  • For each School District there shall be three Trustees, each of whom, after the first election of Trustees, shall hold office for three years and until his successor shall have been elected.
  • Existing Trustees.

  • The School Trustees in any District existing at the time this Act shall come into force, shall continue to hold office until the annual election of Trustees in 1873, and no longer unless re-elected.
  • Annual Meeting.

  • An annual meeting for the election of School Trustees, shall be held in all School Districts in the Province on the second Wednesday in January in each year, commencing at twelve of the clock noon.
  • Substituted Trustees.

  • Any Trustee elected to fill an occasional vacancy shall hold office only for the unexpired term of the person in whose place he has been elected.
  • No Superintendent or Teacher Trustee.

  • No Trustee shall hold the office of Superintendent or Teacher within the District of which he is a Trustee.
  • New Districts.

  • Immediately after the formation of any new School District or Districts, pursuant to the provisions of this Act, the Superintendent of Education shall prepare notices in writing describing such District or Districts respectively, and appoint a time and place for copies of such notices to be posted in at least three public places in each of such School Districts at least ten days before the time of holding the meeting; and the Trustees elected at any such meeting shall respectively hold office up to the next annual meeting for the election of Trustees, and no longer.
  • School Meetings.

  • The proceedings at any school meetings held under the authority of the next preceding section of this Act, shall be conducted in all respects in the manner hereinafter provided with respect to annual meetings in School Districts for the election of Trustees.

    Annual School Meetings.

    Annual Meeting.

  • The voters of a School District, present at any school meeting held under the authority of this Act, shall elect one of their own number to preside over the proceedings of such meeting, and shall also appoint a Secretary, who shall record all proceedings of the meeting.
  • Chairman.

  • The Chairman of such meeting shall decide all questions of order, subject to an appeal to the meeting, and in case of an equality of votes, shall give the casting vote, but he shall have no vote except as Chairman.
  • Voting.

  • The Chairman shall take the votes by a show of hands unless he be requested by any two electors present to grant a poll for recording the names of the votes, in which case he shall grant such poll, and the names of the voters shall be recorded by the Secretary. At the first school meeting held in any District under this Act, the electors present shall, by a majority of votes, elect from the voters in such District three Trustees.
  • Period of holding office.

  • The Trustees so elected at the first annual school meeting in any District shall respectively hold office as follows:
    1. The person first elected, or in case of a poll, the person receiving the largest number of votes shall continue in office for two years, to be reckoned from the annual school meeting next after his election, and from that time onward until his successor shall have been elected:
  • The second person elected, or in case of a poll, receiving the next greatest number of votes shall continue in office one year, to be reckoned from the same period and until his successor shall have been elected:
  • The third or last person elected, or in case of a poll, the person receiving the least number of votes shall continue in office until the next ensuing annual school meeting in such District and until his successor shall have been elected.
  • Proceedings at Meetings.

  • A correct copy of the proceedings of such first, and of every annual, and of every special School District meeting in such District, signed by the Chairman and Secretary, shall be forthwith transmitted by the Secretary in such School District to the Superintendent of Education.
  • Election of Trustee annually.

  • A Trustee shall be elected to office at each ensuing annual school meeting, in place of any Trustee whose term of office is about to expire; and the same individual, if willing, may be re-elected: but no School Trustee shall be re-elected, except by his own consent, during the four years next after his going out of office.
  • Report of Trustees.

  • At every annual school meeting the report of the Trustees, as required by the 30th Section of this Act, shall be received and decided upon.
  • Voters.

  • Any male householder or freeholder resident in a School District shall be entitled to vote at any school meeting held in such School District.
  • Declaration of challenged voter.

  • If any person offering to vote at an annual or other school meeting is challenged as unqualified by any legal voter, the Chairman presiding at such meeting shall require the person so offering to make the following declaration:—

    "I do declare and affirm that I am a householder [or freeholder, as the case may be] in this School District, and that I am legally qualified to vote at this meeting."

    And every person making such declaration shall be permitted to vote on all questions proposed at such meeting; but if any person refuse to make such declaration, his vote shall be rejected.

    False declaration a misdemeanor.

  • Any person wilfully making a false declaration of his right to vote shall be guilty of misdemeanor, and, on a summary conviction thereof before any Justice of the Peace, shall be sentenced therefor to imprisonment for any period not exceeding three months, or to a fine not greater than one hundred dollars.

    Trustees, their powers, responsibilities, and duties

    Designation of Trustees.

  • The Trustees of any School District duly elected, shall be a corporation, under the name of "The Trustees of the _________ School District."
  • Annual Meeting.

  • It shall be the duty of the Trustees of each School District to appoint the place of each annual school meeting of the voters of the District, or of a special meeting for the filling up of any vacancy in the Trustee Corporation occasioned by death, removal, or other cause, and to cause notices of the time and place to be posted in three or more public places of such District, at least ten days before the holding of such meeting, and to specify in such notices the object of such meeting, for any school purpose which they may think proper; and each of such meetings shall be organized and its proceedings recorded in the same manner as in the case of a first school meeting.
  • Ditto.

  • In case, from the want of proper notices, or from any other cause, any annual School meeting, required to be held for the election of Trustees, shall not be held at the proper time, any two voters in such District may, within twenty days after the time, at which such meeting should have been held, call a meeting by giving ten days’ notice, to be posted in at least three public places in such School District, and the meeting then called shall possess all the powers and perform all the duties of the meeting in the place of which it is called.
  • Resignation of Trustee.

  • Any person chosen as Trustee may resign, with the consent, expressed in writing of his colleagues in office and of the Superintendent.
  • Defines duties of Trustees.

  • It shall be the duty of the Trustees of each School District to appoint one of themselves to be Secretary and Treasurer to the Corporation, who shall give such security as may be required by a majority of Trustees, for the correct and safe keeping and forthcoming, when called for, of the papers and moneys belonging to the Corporation, and for the correct keeping of a record of their proceedings in a book procured for that purpose, and for the receiving and accounting for all school moneys which shall come into his hands, and for the disbursing of such moneys in the manner directed by the majority of the Trustees. The Trustees shall take possession and have the custody of and safe-keeping of all Public School property, which has been acquired or given for Public School purposes in such District, and shall have power to acquire and hold as a Corporation, by any title whatsoever, any land, moveable property or income for school purposes, and to apply the same according to the terms on which the same were acquired or received; to do whatever they shall judge expedient with regard to the building, repairing, renting, warming, furnishing, and keeping in order the District School House or Houses, and the furniture and appendages belonging thereto, and the school lands and inclosures held by them; to pay the Teacher or Teachers, to visit, from time to time, each school under their charge, and see that it is conducted according to the authorized regulations, and that such school is duly provided with a register; to see that no unauthorized books are used in the school, and that the pupils are duly supplied with a uniform series of authorized text books, sanctioned and recommended by the Board of Education; to exercise all the corporate powers vested in them by this Act; to cause to be prepared and read at the annual meeting of their District their annual school report for the year then terminating; and such report shall include, amongst other things, a full and detailed account of the receipt and expenditure of all school money received and expended in behalf of such District, for any purpose whatever, during such year; to prepare and transmit annually, on or before the fifteenth day of January, a report to the Superintendent of Education, signed by a majority of the Trustees, and shall specify therein—
    1. The whole time the school in their District was kept by a qualified Teacher, during the year ending the 31st day of December:
  • The amount of money received for the School District, and the manner in which such money shall have been expended.
  • The whole number of children residing in the School District over the age of five years and under sixteen; the number of children taught in the school or schools respectively in such District, distinguishing the sexes and the average attendance of pupils in both winter and summer:
  • The branches of education taught in the school, the number of pupils in each branch, the text books used, the number of public school examinations, visits, and lectures, and by whom made or delivered, and such other information as may be required.
  • Site for School.

  • No steps shall be taken by the Trustees of any School District for procuring a site on which to erect a school house, without calling a special meeting of the voters of their District, to consider the matter; and in case of a difference of opinion, as to the site of the school house, between a majority of the Trustees and a majority of the voters in such District, at such special meeting, each party shall choose an arbitrator, and the Superintendent of Education, or, in case of his inability to attend, any person appointed by him to act in his behalf, shall be a third arbitrator, and such three arbitrators, or a majority of them, shall finally decide the matter.
  • School held in different parts of District.

  • Whenever, from the scattered nature of the population in any School District, the Trustees shall think it advisable to have the School of such District held part of the year in one part of the District, and during the remainder of the year in another part of such District, they shall have power to order the same to be done by the Teacher or Teachers in such District.
  • Teacher to hold certificate.

  • No person shall be appointed as a Teacher in any Public School, unless he shall hold a first, second, or third class certificate or qualification from the Board of Education.

    Public School Teachers and their Duties

    Defines duties of Teachers.

  • It shall be the duty of every Teacher of a Public School—
    1. To teach diligently and faithfully all the branches required to be taught in the School, according to the terms of his engagement with the Trustees, and according to the rules and regulations adopted by the Board of Education:
  • To keep the daily, weekly, and monthly registers of the School:
  • To maintain proper order and discipline in his School, according to the authorised forms and regulations:
  • To keep a visitors’ book (which the Trustees shall provide) and enter therein the visits made to his School, and to present such book to such visitor, and request him to make therein any remarks suggested by his visit:
  • At all times, when desired by them, to give to Trustees and visitors access to the registers and visitors’ book appertaining to the School, and upon his leaving the School to deliver up the same to the order of the Trustees:
  • To have at the end of each half-year public examinations of his school, of which he shall give due notice to the Trustees of the school, and through his pupils to their parents and guardians:
  • To furnish to the Superintendent of Education, when desired, any information which it may be in his power to five respecting any thing connected with the operation of his school, or in anywise affecting its interests or character.

    General Provisions.

    All Schools non-sectarian.

  • All Public Schools established under the provisions of this Act, shall be conducted upon strictly non-sectarian principles. The highest morality shall be inculcated, but no religious dogmas or creed shall be taught. All Judges, Clergymen, Members of the Legislature, and others interested in education, shall be school visitors.

    Penal Clauses.

    Penalty on disturbing School.

  • Any person who wilfully disturbs, interrupts, or disquiets the proceedings of any school meeting authorized to be held by this Act, or any school established and conducted under its authority, or interrupts or disquiets any Public School by rude or indecent behaviour, or by making a noise either within the place where such school is kept or held, or so near thereto as to disturb the order or exercises of such school shall, for each offence on conviction thereof before a Justice of the Peace, on the oath of one credible witness, forfeit and pay, for Public School purposes, to the School District within which the offence was committed such sum not
  • Penalties leviable by distress.

  • All fines, penalties, and forfeitures mentioned in this Act may be sued for, recovered, and enforced, with costs, by and before any Justice of the Peace having jurisdiction within the School District in which such fine or penalty has been incurred, and if any such fine, or penalty and costs be not forthwith paid, the same shall, by and under the warrant of the convicting Justice, be enforced, levied, and collected, with costs of distress, and sale of the goods and chattels of the offender, and shall by such Justice be paid over to the Treasurer of the School District; and in default of such distress, such Justice shall by his warrant cause the offender to be imprisoned for any time not exceeding thirty days, unless the fine and costs, and the reasonable expenses of endeavouring to collect the same, be sooner paid.
  • Short Title.

  • This Act may be cited for all purposes as "The Public School Act, 1872."