July 8, 2019 1:34 pm
Updated: July 8, 2019 7:18 pm

EMSB injunction to stop transfer of 2 schools to French-language board rejected in court

WATCH: EMSB chairperson Angela Mancini says she's disappointed that the school board's bid to seek a temporary injunction blocking the transfer of two of its schools was rejected. As Global's Dan Spector explains, while this latest decision is a stumbling block, the board says it still has options.

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The injunction filed by the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) to stop the transfer of two of its schools to French-language board, Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSPI), was rejected by Superior Court Judge Dominique Poulin.

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READ MORE: ‘C’est triste, mais voilà’ Quebec education minister states as 3 EMSB schools to be given to French board

“This denial of the stay/injunction is in no way an indication of the validity and substance of our case as a minority English-language community,” stated Angela Mancini, EMSB chairperson, adding that the news was “disappointing.”

“We have constitutional rights. And as such, we are considering all legal options available to us.”

For an injunction to be approved, it must fulfill four criteria: it must be urgent, there must be a serious legal question, there must be serious prejudice or irreparable loss, and the balance of inconvenience on both sides must be weighed.

The judge ruled on two points for the EMSB and two for the CSPI.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec’s education minister​ explains his decision to transfer two schools from the EMSB to the French system​

“While the court found that the EMSB raised a serious question based on s. 23 of the Canadian Charter, and was satisfied that the EMSB would suffer serious harm if the stay was not granted, it ultimately found that the balance of inconvenienced weight in favour of the CSPI,” the EMSB wrote in a statement.

The Quebec Education Ministry said it welcomes the decision.

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

“Our government has made the difficult, but necessary decision to order the transfer in consideration of the best interests of all students in Quebec,” the minister’s press attaché Francis Bouchard told Global News.

“In light of this judgment, we are calling on the English Montreal School Board to initiate the administrative process to transfer the schools. All students, whether anglophone or francophone, are entitled to quality education.”

WATCH BELOW: Parents react to EMSB school closures

When it was filed, the injunction stated “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.”

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

“We have a constitutional right to manage and control our education system including our facilities, which the government is ignoring,” she argued.

“The time has come to adopt an approach that respects our constitutional rights while working to meet the needs of all students in the east end, regardless of their linguistic background.”

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

Geoffrey Chambers, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, said he “hoped and expected” the EMSB will pursue the case.

“This is not the last batch of kids that are going to face this,” Chambers said in an interview. “And if we don’t establish what the limit of the government rights of intervention are, these problems are just going to continue.”

Earlier this month, parents of students who attend General Vanier Elementary School and John Paul I Junior High School found out their children would be moved to new buildings in the fall.

Gerald McShane Elementary School, which previously risked being transferred, was spared.

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

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

The EMSB said it plans to move staff and students from John Paul I Junior High School to Laurier McDonald High School in Montreal’s Saint-Léonard borough.

The board also proposes moving staff and students from General Vanier Elementary to Pierre de Coubertin Elementary.

Parents have insisted they preferred their children to go to Dante Elementary because it’s closer to them, but the EMSB says it isn’t big enough to hold all the extra students.

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

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.”

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

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

Roberge insisted cohabitation was a short-term solution, but sharing buildings would impede new immigrants from learning French.

— with files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise and Gloria Henriquez and The Canadian Press

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

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