|EMSB TO APPEAL QUEBEC SUPERIOR COURT SAFEGUARD ORDER FOR ST. PATRICK SCHOOL|
MONTREAL, JUNE 16, 2005- The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) will appeal last week’s safeguard order issued by Quebec Superior Court Justice Pierrette Sevigny which would allow St. Patrick Elementary School in the Plateau to remain open while the case is being heard. However, in order to comply with this ruling, the EMSB has begun initiating the necessary steps to accommodate the students presently enrolled at St. Patrick.
"Our lawyers have taken the time to study the ruling and based on their recommendation we have decided to appeal the safeguard order," stated EMSB Director General Antonio Lacroce. "Because this matter is before the court, we will not be commenting on the grounds or substance of the ruling."
St. Patrick Elementary School has 79 students in a building which can house 570. On January 17, 2005, following an extensive consultation process, the EMSB Council of Commissioners voted to close St. Patrick along with three other schools. Plans called for the building on de Bullion Street to house the High School of Montreal Adult Centre and the Program Mile End Outreach High School.
"People need to understand that this case still has not been heard," said Mr. Lacroce. "It was supposed to be argued June 9, but because no judges were available it was put off until next October. A safeguard order keeps the school open until the arguments of the case are heard and a judgment is rendered. And this safeguard order will now be challenged in the Court of Appeal. We intend to keep the parents of the St. Patrick students informed regularly and they have our assurance that their children will be registered in the appropriate school when classes resume August 31."
Mr. Lacroce pointed out that the majority of St. Patrick students had already registered at Bancroft School, 1.5 km away. "Students always benefit, both pedagogically and socially, from being in a larger school setting," he said. "It is unfortunate to have read comments in The Suburban Newspaper June 15 by Beverly Boyle, a St. Patrick community representative, that in terms of this case ‘it’s not about the kids. It never was.’ For us it is only about the kids. Our sole objective is to provide them with the best quality of services possible."
Mr. Lacroce notes that on August 25, 2004 the EMSB Long Range Planning Committee recommended that seven schools be considered for closure. From that list, the Council of Commissioners agreed to launch a consultation process for six of those schools (James Lyng High School was eliminated from the list). Consultation culminated with hearings on December 6, 2004, at which time each school had an opportunity to present their case. The information presented at these hearings were studied by the Long Range Planning Committee and members of Council. At the special board meeting of January 17, 2005, the Council voted to close four of the schools on the list (St. Patrick, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Wagar and St. Pius X), but but keep two (St. Gabriel and McLearon) open.
Michael J. Cohen