GTA family threatens legal action over cancelled kindergarten program

A GTA mom says she is preparing to take legal action after the school in her family’s neighbourhood cut its junior kindergarten program and is preparing to cut the senior class, as well.

Charlene St. Wells says Ontario is breaking its promise for full-day kindergarten in all schools

A GTA mom is threatening legal action after her school district scrapped kindergarten classes at her children's school. 2:35

A GTA mom says she is preparing to take legal action after the school in her family’s neighbourhood cut its junior kindergarten program and is preparing to cut the senior class, as well.

Charlene St. Wells lives just minutes from St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary in Aurora, Ont., and every day she walks her seven-year-old to class in the morning.

St. Wells had planned on sending her four-year-old son to the school in September, but last year the York District Catholic School Board scrapped the junior kindergarten program at St. Joseph’s, and will soon cut the senior class to make room for a French immersion class.

As a result, her son will have to take a bus to different school.

“It doesn’t make sense that I have a school that I can see from my front living room that he could attend, and he has to be shipped out on a 35 minute bus ride,” she told CBC News.

“I’m really upset about it. Sibling separation is a huge concern for me.”

St. Wells said that 30 families have signed a petition she started to have St. Joseph’s reinstate its kindergarten program.

When she approached the board to discuss the matter, she was directed to the Ontario Ministry of Education.

'Where's the accountability?'

During the last provincial election in 2011, the Ontario Liberals pledged to instate full-day kindergarten programs in every publicly funded school in the province by September 2014.

But in an email statement to CBC News, education ministry spokesperson Kevin Dove wrote, “That means that all of Ontario’s four and five-year-olds will have access to full-day kindergarten.”

St. Wells said she believes the province is simply playing with semantics.

“I've heard the same spiel. I think that legislation is legislation and intent is not my concern. If that is their intent, they should amend legislation and go through proper process to do so,” she said.

“It’s ridiculous. Where’s the accountability?”

Elizabeth Crowe, the chair of the York District Catholic School Board said that without funding from the province, said there is currently nothing the school board can do about the situation without help from the province. 

“We have to follow legislation. So we went back to the ministry and said if you would like us to put the program back at St. Joe’s, we will. And we would like the funding to do so,” Crowe said.

“And we have not heard back.”

St. Wells that if the province doesn’t uphold their election promise, she may be forced to take legal action.

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