Quebec renews its partial trusteeship of EMSB under Marlene Jennings

As it heads into a period of tension with many local school boards, the Quebec government announced Monday that it’s renewing its partial trusteeship of the English Montreal School Board.

Marlene Jennings, the former Liberal MP currently serving as the board's trustee, will continue in the job until at least Nov. 6 under a government decree that was adopted April 29 but just publicized.

Jennings was appointed six months ago after Education Minister Jean-François Roberge, following a damning investigation into the board’s management, drastically limited its commissioners' powers.

In a statement, Jennings, a former Liberal MP, wrote that she was "delighted" to be continuing as trustee.

“From the very moment I first set foot on the EMSB premises at 6000 Fielding Avenue in NDG, I have received such wonderful collaboration from senior management and all the way down the line,” she wrote.

“In addition, I have to say that during this COVID-19 crisis our staff has risen to the challenge to continue to try and provide as many services as we can under these difficult circumstances.”

As Premier François Legault detailed his plans last week for reopening Quebec’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, the province’s English school boards in particular pushed back against the plan, which calls for Montreal elementary schools to reopen May 19.

On Friday, the EMSB wrote in a statement that “despite government deadlines, its elementary schools will not reopen until student and staff safety can be assured.”

Today, the board followed up with a more detailed statement, including a long list of protocols it will follow to ensure student safety. “We will aim for May 19, but we will take the time needed to plan carefully,” the statement said.

The Quebec English School Boards Association, which represents all nine of the province’s English school boards, also put out a statement on Friday saying that the boards will make their own decisions about when they can reopen safely.

“We continue to assert our legal and constitutional authority to control and manage our minority language school system and it remains our public responsibility to make the right decisions for our communities,” wrote association president Dan Lamoureux. 


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