In the News

EMSB Tries to Evict Autism Centre

Montreal West, QC

February 19, 2016

Yesterday, Sharon McCarry, founder and Executive Director of La Fondation Place Coco was served with legal proceedings by the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) to evict the Foundation from its premises. The Foundation is a community organization that helps students with special needs and their families enter the public school system. The Foundation operates a pre-school in a building owned by the school board for children on the Autism Disorder Spectrum helping them to socialize and develop positive behaviors, readying them for successful integration into regular Kindergarten classes with minimal support. The EMSB administration wants to evict the pre-school despite long-time promises to give the Foundation a long term lease, and despite at least $40,000 in investments made by the Foundation to improve the building which remain unreimbursed. The EMSB has steadfastly refused to honour its commitments and is instead spending many thousands of dollars in public funds on litigation, preferring to sell the property to real estate promoters rather than helping special-needs children. The Foundation offered to buy the building and invest over a million dollars to expand the facility and improve services to children entering the EMSB system, but the offer was rejected outright. The children currently attending the pre-school are affected by budget cuts in education and childcare, and long wait times for intervention that can extend to 4 years in total, and in many instances the children age out of the privilege by age 6 before they start receiving provincial services. The Foundation is a recognized solution to this situation and operates at half the cost of the public system.

“The EMSB has made no effort to work with us, only against us since the administrative changes in 2012”, said Sharon McCarry. “The location of the building provides the Foundation with the ability to transition children from the school into the Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary school next door. Because of the EMSB’s intransigence, the children risk losing the progress they have made with us. For families struggling with daily challenges of living with Autism, the Little Red Playhouse provides hope and skills to believe in a future for our children. The parents and the community are behind us and, though we are outraged at the cost we will be forced to bear in fighting this action, we will certainly prevail. The children, and the public, deserve no less.”