Two years ago, the principal of one of the schools in Rana was contacted by the police after a serious incident with a student.
What eventually became a bullying case ended up on the table of the County Governor in Nordland. Rana municipality received a list of 18 measures that were to be implemented to ensure the school environment for the pupil.
Even though the municipality has implemented half of the measures, the County Governor is not satisfied.
In March this year, they therefore saw no other way than to fine the municipality day by day, until they meet the requirements that have been set. Since then, the fine has grown by 3,000 kroner every day.
– When we go to the step of giving daily fines, it is a serious matter, says director of education at the County Governor of Nordland, Guri Adelsten Iversen to NRK.
Do not know if they can force them to pay
The municipalities in Norway have a special protection against disbursement and arrest in the Local Government Act. That is why Adelsten Iversen has sent a letter to the Directorate of Education.
The question is whether the money Rana owes can be collected. And if so, how.
– We have received signals that a municipality can refrain from paying, even if they receive a bill from the state. We must find out whether daily fines to municipalities are a tool that actually works, says Adelsten Iversen.
“We have become aware that the right to collect the coercive fine has been discussed at a meeting of the municipal council. As a result, the topic has been frequently discussed on social media », she writes in the letter to the directorate.
Believes they have fulfilled their duties
When the deadline expired, the municipality had implemented nine of the 18 measures.
Municipal lawyer Gislaug Øygarden has previously stated to Rana Blad that the municipality has done what can be expected in this case and fulfilled its duties.
The county governor disagrees. Thus, the fines of NOK 3,000 per day are maintained.
– We see that Rana municipality works hard to meet the requirements of the decision we have made, but we are not happy with what they have done and believe they could have done more, says Adelsten Iversen.
– Can not hide behind this law
Associate Professor Roald Hopsnes at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen, is clear that the Local Government Act cannot exempt a municipality from paying. The point of this law is to protect the goods of the inhabitants if a municipality cannot make up for it.
– It should not be possible for anyone to demand the forced sale of the municipality’s assets in order to collect claims. Imagine that a nursing home is forcibly sold, because a municipality cannot make up for it. It does not work.
– But as long as a municipality can make up for it, they can not hide behind this law. They have a payment obligation, he says.
He emphasizes that disagreement between the state and the municipality in such cases is not uncommon, but that a municipality must take other steps to get a final decision. The municipality cannot appeal the county governor’s decision.
– I dare not say for sure if the municipality can sue the county governor. In similar cases, they can have their case tried in court. But in general, lawsuits between the state and the municipality have been limited.
Will not answer if they will pay
The lawyers at the Directorate of Education are now working on the case. It was not finished when NRK contacted.
The county governor has not sent a claim to the municipality yet, since the daily fines are still running. Rana municipality will not answer whether they will pay the fine or not.
Communications manager Connie Slettan in Rana municipality says they are waiting for a response to a letter they sent to the County Governor in mid-September. The content of the letter is unknown since it has been withheld from the public for the sake of the student.