School board elections set up to fail, chairman says

By Matthew McCully

As if balancing the start of the school year on the edge of a knife weren’t enough to contend with, the Eastern Townships School Board (ETSB) is about to take another major hit thanks to upcoming school board elections, which Chairman Michael Murray said have been set up to ensure failure.
“This is a deliberate attempt to demonstrate school board democracy doesn’t work,” Murray said in a phone interview Tuesday.
When school governance Bill 40 was adopted last year, French school boards were immediately abolished and replaced with service centres. In November, parents, staff and French community members will be selected to act as advisory boards for those centres.
In a bid to satisfy English school boards’ right to govern their own schools, Bill 40 provided a different set of rules for them, maintaining universal suffrage within the English system to elect board members of service centres.
In theory, that would happen Nov.1, but English boards filed a legal challenge against the constitutionality of Bill 40.
While waiting for the case to be heard on its merits, which was delayed because of the pandemic, English boards filed an interlocutory injunction to be exempt from the application of Bill 40 until the case was heard, meaning they could move forward with school board elections under the pre-Bill 40 system.
English boards were granted the stay, but the provincial government filed an appeal shortly after.
So where are we now?
On Monday a hearing began with a three-judge panel to rule on the Quebec government’s appeal.
They are expected to render a judgement this afternoon (Thursday, Sept.17).
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