|PARENTS FROM MACKAY CENTRE AND PHILIP E. LAYTON SCHOOLS ASK MINISTERS BOLDUC AND BARRETTE TO INTERVENE IN CRISIS SITUATION|
MONTREAL, MAY 22, 2014 – Parents of students attending the Mackay Centre and Philip E. Layton Schools have written to Quebec Minister of Education, Leisure and Sports Dr. Yves Bolduc and Minister of Health and Social Services Dr. Dr. Gaétan Barrette, to alert them about a crisis facing their respective institutions.
The English Montreal School Board special needs schools are effectively tenants of the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre (MMRC), which falls under the jurisdiction of Minister of Health and Social Services.
For almost three years, the EMSB has been working with the MELS towards the acquisition of the property. The EMSB Council of Commissioners tabled a resolution in April to approve the change to the deed of establishment, expressing great misgivings over the unacceptable position held by MMRC regarding the finite allocation of space to the Mackay School.
In their letter to the Ministers, which has now been posted on the front page of the EMSB website, they ask why the MMRC is planning to give valuable space to its staff members rather than to their clients: fragile students who are blind, deaf, physically disabled and have communications disorders.
When the MMRC announced, in 2011, that due to its new strategic direction, Mackay and Philip E. Layton would have to relocate by August 2013 to another EMSB facility, they assured parents that they would: work with the EMSB to adapt a school; provide financial help; and ensure that the level of services it provides would not decrease. “This time delay was completely unrealistic,” the parents write. “ After a review of its vacant schools and available properties, no appropriate building existed within the EMSB. An examination of the Décarie property revealed that further adaptations would be needed to accommodate the Layton students.
Last October, the MMRC provided notice that the Philip E. Layton School would be evicted from the Sherbrooke Street facility as of June 30, 2014, another unrealistic deadline, so that MMRC could renovate the premises to create a daycare for its employees’ children. Last November, the MMRC arranged for a Private Member’s Bill 210 to be presented to the National Assembly, ostensibly “to correct a clerical mistake.” when it actually removed conditions attached to the Décarie land by its donor that stipulated its use was to build a school for the Protestant deaf, mutes and blind. If parents and the EMSB had not intervened, the Bill would have passed and opened the door for the MMRC to sell the Décarie property to any commercial interest at a much higher price than the EMSB could offer. At subsequent meetings held between the Ministries of Health and Social Services and Education, all parties were told to work together for the benefit of their mutual clients.
“We parents believe that the MMRC is not considering the best interests of our children who are their clients, as well and has not been acting in good faith in its negotiations with the EMSB for the allocation of space,” the parents wrote. “Why are they not consulting us as the EMSB has? Don’t they care about what we think? Don’t they care about our children?
For a complete copy of the letter go to www.emsb.qc.ca.
Michael J. Cohen