Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 23, 2017 - 10:00 am

Nunavut legal spat over classroom space ends on good terms

New agreement allows Iqaluit French students to use space at Inuksuk High School

STEVE DUCHARME
A legal spat over the use of classroom space at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, above, by French school board students has ended in light of a new agreement between the French and Iqaluit school boards and the Government of Nunavut. (FILE PHOTO)
A legal spat over the use of classroom space at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, above, by French school board students has ended in light of a new agreement between the French and Iqaluit school boards and the Government of Nunavut. (FILE PHOTO)

A courtroom turf battle over access of francophone students to Iqaluit District Education Authority classroom space has ended, following a multi-year agreement signed between the Iqaluit DEA, the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut and the Government of Nunavut.

Iqaluit DEA lawyer Anne Crawford formally withdrew her client’s suit against the government at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit, May 19.

Grade 10 to Grade 12 high school students from École des Trois-Soleils—Nunavut’s only French school—will continue to use classroom space at nearby Inuksuk High School, with the addition of Grade 9 students, according to a new agreement lasting four years and signed May 15.

The agreement comes into effect following the current school year, on Aug. 15.

“It’s quite a comprehensive agreement,” Crawford said by phone to Justice Beverly Browne.

“As a consequence, there is no reason to continue this application.”

The IDEA was challenging the authority of Nunavut’s education minister, Paul Quassa, to intervene in negotiations between the IDEA and the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut last year.

The CSFN had an agreement with the IDEA to use a classroom for Grade 10 to Grade 12 students at Inuksuk due to overcrowding at the 100-student École des Trois-Soleils.

But Quassa sidestepped those negotiations and admitted four Grade 9 French students from École des Trois-Soleils into the classroom for the upcoming 2016-17 school year, in a memo drafted Sept. 9.

Although Quassa withdrew that directive a few days later, the IDEA alleged he had no right to intervene in the first place, citing provisions under Nunavut’s Education Act that they say gave them exclusive authority over classroom space.

The new agreement, co-signed by the Government of Nunavut, avoids a potentially costly legal conflict in the courtroom.

According to the agreement, Inuksuk now receives 100 per cent of the student educator ratio for all École des Trois-Soleils students that use the facility.

The student educator ratio determines how many teachers a school is allocated.

According to the agreement, Grade 9 French students at Inuksuk will be taught entirely by CSFN teachers, while Grade 10 to Grade 12 students will be allowed to enroll in a limited selection of courses provided by the public school.

Courses include physical education, English and career and technology studies, with class materials provided by Inuksuk.

The CFSN will oversee the hiring of the teachers it supplies to the high school but the principals of both Inuksuk and École des Trois-Soleils will collaborate on scheduling and other administrative duties.

The lawyer representing the GN, Guy Regimbald, told Justice Browne that his client consented to the withdrawal and will pursue no reimbursement for legal fees.

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