MONTREAL – For parents and educators of The Little Red Playhouse pre-school in Montreal West, there was a palpable sense of relief in court Wednesday.
The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) owns the building that houses the pre-school and had sent them a notice that they had three months to leave.
The notice infuriated parents.
“The right to evict is not as strong as the constitutional right of education for my son,” insisted parent Sylvan Schneider.
On Wednesday, a judge told the pre-school it could stay in the building until June 2017.
WATCH BELOW: 12-year-old Colm McCarry shares his experience at The Little Red Playhouse and how it helped him with autism.
Jessica Schwartz has two children on the autism spectrum and for her family, The Little Red Playhouse has been a godsend.
“To have these kids lose their school with nowhere to go, that is a life and death issue,” Schwartz said.
“The difference between their quality of life.”
The EMSB sent a notice to the school in December 2014 informing it the building would be sold.
The pre-school made two offers to purchase the building, both of which were rejected because the amounts were too low.
EMSB spokesperson Michael Cohen said the preschool had ample time to find alternative arrangements, but that it wanted to work with the school and make sure the kids had a place to go.
“We’re very sympathetic and we want there to be an arrangement,” he said.
The Montreal West pre-school integrates children with autism and special needs and with mainstream kids.
It is currently one of the only facilities in Quebec offering a mix of academics and intervention.
“Some kids are not severe enough to go to Giant Step or Summit,” said Niki Karamanos, whose son Andrew attended the preschool.
The school now has 17 months to decide whether it will buy the building or find another facility.
Either option will cost a lot of money.
“It’s going to mean millions of dollars of trying to raise money,” sai dthe school’s executive director Sharon McCarry.
“We’re hoping the Minister of Education and Minister of Health will help us build this new centre.”