Montreal

Closure of Riverdale High School an 'exceptional situation,' Premier Legault says

"We have to supply classrooms for these children," said Premier François Legault, a day after the sudden announcement of the Pierrefonds English-language high school's imminent closure.

Building needed to meet demand in French system, premier says

Speaking to reporters outside a cabinet meeting in Gatineau, Que., Tuesday, Quebec Premier François Legault said the province had no choice but to use a rarely cited section of the Education Act to transfer a school building between boards in the West Island. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Quebec Premier François Legault says the decision to close Riverdale High School in the West Island was necessary, given the shortage of space in the French school system. 

Legault told reporters Tuesday that transferring the building to the French-language Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSMB) represented an "exceptional situation."

"We have to supply classrooms for these children," Legault said at a cabinet retreat in Gatineau.

The province used a rarely cited section of the Education Act, section 477.1.1, to make the change.

Roughly 300 students at the school, which is part of the English-language Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), will be required to transfer to other high schools next fall because of the impending closure.

The two school boards had been in discussions for almost a year to explore different options to deal with the CSMB's influx of new students.

The transfer announced Monday would make room for 770 CSMB students, bringing the total number of spots vacated by the LBPSB to meet the CSMB's needs to 1,200, the ministry said.

Anglophone community groups and the Liberal Opposition have criticized the decision, saying parents should have been consulted.

Quebec's English School Boards Association called it a "gross infringement on local autonomy and on the powers of duly elected school board commissioners."

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