July 2, 2019 1:27 pm
Updated: July 8, 2019 1:29 pm

‘It’s our last chance’: EMSB files injunction to stop transfer of 2 of its schools

The English Montreal School Board is launching a legal challenge to block school transfers. EMSB chairperson Angela Mancini says an injunction has been filed.

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The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has filed an injunction in an attempt to stop the transfer of two of its schools to French-language board, Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSPI).

The injunction, obtained by Global News, states “the government failed to properly consult the English-speaking community, failed to consider the English-speaking community’s exclusive right to management and control of its educational facilities.”

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EMSB chairperson Angela Mancini described the injunction as the school board’s last option to save both schools.

“We have to at least go this route at this point,” she said on Tuesday.

READ MORE: English Montreal School Board votes to launch Major School Change consultation

Last week, parents of students who attend General Vanier Elementary School and John Paul I Junior High School found out that their children would be moved to new buildings in the fall. However, Gerald McShane Elementary School, another school that risked being transferred, was spared.

Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge outlined his final decision in a letter to parents last Thursday, saying the government had to make a hard decision.

WATCH: Swift reaction over news of which EMSB schools to be transferred to Commission Scolaire Pointe de L’ile board

At the time, Mancini said she was disappointed with the move and that the EMSB would look at all possible recourses.

On Tuesday, she said the forced transfers have left the school board with little choice.

“I think it’s our last chance,” she said.

“I think we did many other options in the past but I think we felt at this point we felt the injunction was the best way to go in order to ask the courts to stop the transfer of these two schools.”

The judge should be rendering a decision by Thursday, she added.

READ MORE: English Montreal School Board won’t rule out legal action amid forced school transfers

The school board is also holding a town hall Tuesday night for parents, administrators and governing board members from the two schools being transferred, where contingency plans are being revealed.

If the forced transfer of John Paul I Junior High School goes ahead, the EMSB plans to move staff and students from that school to Laurier McDonald High School in Saint-Léonard.

As for General Vanier Elementary, the board proposed to move the staff and students to Pierre de Coubertin Elementary. Several parents argued they preferred to go to Dante Elementary because it’s closer, but the EMSB says Dante isn’t big enough to hold all students and has no room to grow.

Fight has gone on for months

The debate over which schools would be transferred to the French-language school board has dragged on for months.

It started after a letter from the minister stated that “the CSPI expressed a need for additional space, notably due to the impacts of the government’s new policy establishing kindergarten programs for four-year-olds.”

READ MORE: Montreal students, parents hold rally in east end to save EMSB schools

The EMSB had been pushing for a cohabitation model with its severely overcrowded French counterpart — something both the province and the CSPI repeatedly rejected, saying it needs about 3,000 spots.

Roberge, for his part, has argued cohabitation was a short-term solution, but sharing buildings would impede new immigrants from learning French.

The deadline for the EMSB to propose ways to save its schools was midnight on June 10. After the deadline passed, Roberge announced he would ensure the English board would hand over buildings for the fall.

WATCH: (June 21, 2019) Montreal police called to EMSB meeting

— with files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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