Engineer drop-out sues for his failure

August 13, 1999


A Canadian student is suing his former high school for allegedly failing to prepare him properly for the demands of a university engineering course.

Jonathan Govias blames the exclusive Tempo High School in Edmonton for his being forced to quit his civil engineering degree at the University of Alberta after only one semester.

He and his parents, Gaynor and Kenneth Govias, have named three people in the suit: the physics teacher, vice-principal and principal. They are demanding Can$165,000 (Pounds 69,150) in compensation for future loss of engineering income and damages.

Mr Govias, who now works in the music business, accused Tempo of a breach of agreement. The private school knew, so the writ claims, that it had to provide Mr Govias with the proper university education required to become a civil engineer.

According to the claim, he did not receive the "higher standard of education and instruction than that provided by the public school system", which the family says the school implicitly offered.

Tempo calls the suit "scandalous and vexatious". It argues in writing that it never intended to provide a particular level of proficiency but rather the "opportunity" for academic achievement, saying that success ultimately rests on a student's ability.

The case began winding its way through the court system in 1995 and will be heard by a judge, and not a jury as the family wanted.

"Where's the responsibility of the student in this?" asked Terry Carson, head of the department of secondary education at the University of Alberta, who believes the case could start a "slippery slope where (academic failure) becomes someone else's fault".

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