The Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud turns to courts for a new high school in Hamilton

First-ever lawsuit filed by a French-language school board against the government of Ontario for new school facilities

HAMILTON, ON, Nov. 20, 2013 /CNW/ - The Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (CSDCCS) is taking legal action against the Ontario government after over a decade of inaction. Since the late 1990s, the school board has been requesting funding for a new facility for the Académie catholique Mère-Teresa (ACMT), demanding that the high school be moved to a new building that would equal those used by English-language schools. The lawsuit has been filed to address the educational rights of the Catholic Francophone community in Hamilton, Brantford and Norfolk.

"Ever since the late 1990s, the Francophone community has been demanding a new building for its high school—one that would finally meet the needs of a high school program worthy of the name," stated Nathalie Dufour-Séguin, Chair of the CSDCCS, during a press conference at the ACMT.

The ACMT's current building has been problematic since the school's opening, one of the main concerns being its location on a minuscule site of less than an acre, while the standard area for Ontario high schools is between 10 and 15 acres. The property is entirely occupied by the building, meaning that the 234 students that attend the high school don't even have a schoolyard, never mind a sports field. Initially constructed for elementary students, the building was supposed to be a temporary solution for the ACMT. Almost 15 years later, the building has become the ACMT's de facto permanent location—a fact that must change as soon as possible.

The current situation perpetuates and aggravates the linguistic and religious assimilation of the students—a contravention of the CSDCCS's constitutional mandate to promote the development and sustainability of the Catholic Francophone community. Students who would otherwise be enrolling at the ACMT are instead attracted to English-language high schools that are equipped with infrastructure designed for the secondary school level, but which the ACMT lacks: a sports field, a regulation-size gymnasium, classrooms with windows and soundproofed walls, spaces for specialized programming, etc.

"It goes without saying that the massive gap in terms of equivalence is a threat to the Catholic Francophone population of Hamilton, Brantford and Norfolk," asserted the Chair of the CSDCCS.

The CSDCCS has exhausted all administrative and political means of moving forward and now sees the situation as an impasse. The Ministry of Education has not yet confirmed funding for the purchase of a new site or for the construction of a new building. Because of the Ministry's inaction, the CSDCCS has no choice but to turn to the legal system to secure funding for a French-language Catholic high school with a capacity of at least 500 students.

The Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud has an enrollment this year of over 15,000 students in its 44 elementary schools and 10 high schools, with an area of over 40,000 square kilometers, from the Niagara Peninsula to Peterborough and from Lake Ontario (Toronto) to Georgian Bay. Its head office is in Toronto.

Video with caption: "Video: First-ever lawsuit filed by a French-language school board against the government of Ontario for new school facilities". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20131120_C9097_VIDEO_EN_33613.mp4&posterurl=http://photos.newswire.ca/images/20131120_C9097_PHOTO_EN_33613.jpg&clientName=Conseil%20Scolaire%20de%20District%20Catholique%20Centre%2DSud&caption=Video%3A%20First%2Dever%20lawsuit%20filed%20by%20a%20French%2Dlanguage%20school%20board%20against%20the%20government%20of%20Ontario%20for%20new%20school%20facilities&title=The%20Conseil%20scolaire%20de%20district%20catholique%20Centre%2DSud%20turns%20to%20courts%20for%20a%20new%20high%20school%20in%20Hamilton&headline=The%20Conseil%20scolaire%20de%20district%20catholique%20Centre%2DSud%20turns%20to%20courts%20for%20a%20new%20high%20school%20in%20Hamilton

Image with caption: "First-ever lawsuit filed by a French-language school board against the government of Ontario for new school facilities (CNW Group/Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131120_C9097_PHOTO_EN_33603.jpg

Image with caption: "First-ever lawsuit filed by a French-language school board against the government of Ontario for new school facilities (CNW Group/Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131120_C9097_PHOTO_EN_33605.jpg

SOURCE: Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud

For further information:

Mikale-Andrée Joly 
Director of Corporate Relations
Tel: 416.397.6564 ext. 73130 / 1.800.274.3764 ext. 73130
mjoly@csdccs.edu.on.ca

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