|TWO BOARDS WORK TOGETHER TO ADDRESS INCIDENT BETWEEN MONTREAL NORTH HIGH SCHOOLS|
MONTREAL, OCTOBER 22, 2007- Administrators from the English Montreal School Board and the Commission Scolaire de la Pointe-de-l'Île (CSPI) are calling for calm in the wake of an isolated incident involving some students from École Secondaire Henri Bourassa and Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North.
Representatives from both Boards met today, along with officials from Montreal Police Station 40, to put a plan of rapprochement in place involving the two schools. The principals of École Secondaire Henri Bourassa and Lester B. Pearson High School have been in constant touch over the last few days, as have EMSB Director General Antonio Lacroce and his CSPI counterpart Antonio Bernardelli.
On Wednesday October 17, an altercation arose between some students from the two schools at a local fast food restaurant. Unfortunately, a Lester B Pearson student uttered a regrettable racial remark leading to her being assaulted in a nearby park. She was later taken to hospital and promptly released. In the aftermath, on Thursday, some students from École Secondaire Henri Bourassa created a disturbance at Lester B. Pearson High School. Students were dismissed at the regular time with increased supervision. However, many parents had taken their children out of school for the afternoon. The school was open on Friday, but many parents chose to keep their children at home. Having been informed of the situation, the École Secondaire Henri Bourassa administration immediately cooperated with the Lester B. Pearson High School administration and the students responsible for the assault and the vandalism were apprehended.
Monday, October 22 was a pre-scheduled pedagogical day for both schools. All the appropriate security measures are being taken by the two schools to avoid a repeat of any violence. On Tuesday, with the resumption of classes, the police will have a strong presence in front of both schools and in the immediate vicinity.
"Both school boards have a zero tolerance policy for violence," Mr. Lacroce and Mr. Bernardelli said in a joint statement. "Our two schools have co-existed in this area for many years. We do not want this incident to be blown out of proportion because of the unfortunate actions of a few students. It is our goal to bring the two student bodies together and in the coming days we will explore ways to do this."
In the coming days, the two schools will meet with leaders from their respective Student Councils. The objective is to arrange a future meeting between the two councils in order for them to begin planning joint programming aimed at bringing the schools closer together.
"It is important that we get the kids talking," said Mr. Lacroce. "Whatever projects ensue, it should come directly from them."
Added Mr. Bernardelli: "These schools have co-existed a block apart for years. On the whole, relations have been very good. Obviously, given the recent turn of events, we will come up with some new initiatives."
Michael J. Cohen