New trial put on hold between French school board and Yukon government

The French school board and Yukon government have agreed to put their legal wrangling on hold until Nov. 18, in order to give newly created committees the opportunity to work on outstanding issues.

The French school board and Yukon government have agreed to put their legal wrangling on hold until Nov. 18, in order to give newly created committees the opportunity to work on outstanding issues.

Those include the construction of a new francophone school in Whitehorse, and the temporary relocation of students from the Academie Parhelie, who currently share classes with students from Ecole Emilie Tremblay.

Earlier this month, both parties announced the creation of a settlement committee to deal with the issues the French school board has been fighting for in court for the past six years.

A construction sub-committee was also created and will be meeting for the first time in September.

As part of the same announcement, the government said it has set aside $75,000 in this fall’s supplementary budget as part of the planning process for a new school.

More funding will be available as part of the government’s 2016-2017 budget, according to Ronuk Modha, spokesperson for the Department of Education.

“The specific amount allocated at that time will depend on the work of the settlement committee and the progress of project planning,” he said.

No precise timeline has been confirmed for the construction of the new school.

Marc Champagne, executive director for the French school board, said finalizing a site would be one of the priorities for the committee.

The school board has selected the site of Riverdale’s skate park for a future high school.

Champagne said he hopes to be in a position to present an update on the temporary relocation of students at an upcoming public meeting on Sept. 3.

In 2009 the school board sued the Yukon government, claiming it hadn’t been meeting its obligation under section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects minority language rights.

Specifically, the school board was claiming the government had withheld funds, and was asking for the construction of a new high school, the ability to handle its own budget and the right to widen admission criteria for the school.

The Yukon Supreme Court sided with the school board, but in 2014 the Yukon Court of Appeal overturned the decision, noting a reasonable apprehension of bias from the trial judge.

In May the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the bias apprehension and ordered a new trial.

As of last May, it was estimated the government had spent more than $3 million on the case since 2009, while the francophone school board had spent $1.8 million.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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