HAMILTON, ON, Feb. 19, 2015 /CNW/ - In front of Académie catholique Mère-Teresa (ACMT) high school's 300 students and the Hamilton region French-Catholic community, parent leaders for the #ActionACMT movement stated that they would take all possible political and legal steps to ensure full funding for the construction of a new Catholic high school on its own property to serve the student population of schools in the Brantford, Brant-Haldimand, Simcoe, Norfolk and Hamilton, Wentworth region.
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The Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (CSDCCS) hopes that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will understand the needs of Hamilton's Catholic school community and will change its position to avoid court action. However, if required, CSDCCS is ready to explore every possible legal avenue in order to secure its own school on its own property, even going all the way to Supreme Court of Canada, to offer students and parents from all regions served by Académie catholique Mère-Teresa high school facilities that are equivalent to those of the majority.
Last week, CSDCCS was informing parents that the MOE had accepted to grant them only a portion of the requested funding on the condition that they share facilities with another school board. During this meeting, parents indicated they were dissatisfied with this offer, and gave the CSDCCS a clear mandate to continue the call for a new Catholic high school in Hamilton to be built on its own property. Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Section 93 of the Constitution Act (1867) require that a school's physical facility for Ontario's French-Catholic community be truly equivalent to the current and future facilities of the majority. Only a distinct and autonomous school will be able to satisfy the region's French-Catholic population and these constitutional requirements.
"The French-Catholic community has been requesting its own school for more than 20 years. Why is the MOE now interfering in the school boards' process of identifying their capital needs? CSDCCS school trustees would like to understand why the MOE is now interfering in the various school boards' five-year plans when there is no mention anywhere within these plans of building schools in partnership with anyone. In its MPP #18, the MOE favors and does not force voluntary partnership for the construction of new schools. Why did the MOE refuse the offer from Viamonde school board who, voluntarily and in partnership with the Hamilton-Wentworth Public District School Board, made a joint application for a new school? Why are they now forcing a partnership with CSDCCS, who has never requested it? What happened to school governance of French-speaking schools by francophone parents?" asks Melinda Chartrand, Chair of CSDCSS.
"One has to wonder why CSDCCS would accept to form a partnership with Viamonde school board when they have taken a clear position with their provincial association to get rid of the French-Catholic school system and create a single public system. It is clear that their interests are not compatible with the mandate of Catholic school boards. Is it possible that the only way for Viamonde school board to have a school in the Hamilton region is to establish partnerships with other school boards, for the sole reason that they do not have the required student numbers to build a school with all the specialized facilities?" adds Board Chair Melinda Chartrand.
"There is no doubt that the need to build a distinct school that is able to accommodate 475 students is real, and that it would allow to serve ACMT high school's French-Catholic communities. Why then accept a school for 350 students when the numbers clearly indicate that the Board will have to add, in the near future, portables to meet the ever growing number of students? As parents, we are taxpayers just like others in regions served by ACMT and, as taxpayers, we are entitled to our own school" mentions Nancy Baverstock, Académie catholique Mère-Teresa Parent Council President.
"As French-speaking Catholics, we have an obligation to make sure our children and grandchildren will be able to continue to assert our rights. Many generations of students have attended ACMT without having access to appropriate facilities. This has to end!" states Joanne Bouchard, Académie catholique Mère-Teresa high parent Parent Council Member.
"We want schools that are equivalent to those of the majority without having to share our facilities with other school partners. We have the required numbers, give us our school!" says Mélanie Morissette, École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Marguerite (Brantford) Parent Council President.
During the press conference, parents stated that actions will be taken to contact the MOE, members of the provincial legislature and management of the provincial government to assert those rights.
This year, the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud will receive over 15,500 students in its 45 elementary and 10 secondary schools established on a territory of over 40,000 km2, extending from the Niagara Peninsula to Peterborough and from Lake Ontario (Toronto) to the Georgian Bay. Our vast network of French-language Catholic schools allows each student to belong to a French-speaking faith-based educational community and benefit from a first-rate education in a rich, fair, and inclusive learning environment.
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SOURCE Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud
Video with caption: "Video: #ActionACMT Press Conference - February 19, 2015". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20150219_C5709_VIDEO_EN_12363.mp4&posterurl=http%3A%2F%2Fphotos.newswire.ca%2Fimages%2F20150219_C5709_VIDEO_EN_12363.jpg&order=1&jdd=20150219&cnum=C5709
Image with caption: "Melinda Chartrand, Chair of Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud, speaking to the media, students and guests. Photo credit: Shan Qiao (CNW Group/Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150219_C5709_PHOTO_EN_12353.jpg
Image with caption: "Joanne Bouchard, member of the parents council at École secondaire Académie catholique Mère-Teresa (ACMT) during the press conference. Photo credit: Shan Qiao (CNW Group/Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150219_C5709_PHOTO_EN_12354.jpg
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