11/09/2012 12:20 EST | Updated 01/09/2013 05:12 EST

B.C. school district discriminated against dyslexic boy, top court rules

The North Vancouver school district discriminated against a severely dyslexic boy when it closed a diagnostic centre that helps special-needs students, the Supreme Court of Canada says in a ruling released today.

Adequate special education is not a "dispensable luxury," the ruling said.

The case was brought by the father of Jeffrey Moore, who was referred in Grade 2 to the diagnostic centre by a district-employed psychologist because his dyslexia meant he could not learn in the regular school system.

When the centre was later closed because of cutbacks, the Moore family transferred him to a private school while launching a legal battle, accusing the district and Education Ministry of discrimination.

Two lower courts disagreed, but on Friday the 15-year legal battle ended with the top court ruling in their favour. It found the North Vancouver School District could have looked at other alternatives, such as closing its outdoor school.

But it was not a total victory — the court ruled there was no systemic discrimination from the province's education ministry.

It stressed that adequate special education for children with severe learning disabilities "is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia."

The court has ordered the district to pay Moore's legal costs and thousand of dollars for 10 years of private school tuition.

Jeffery Moore's father Rick said the family was celebrating after hearing the news.

"We let out a big whoop, and had a hugfest," Moore told CBC Radio on Friday morning.