Friends of NDSS ask for judicial review of school closure

The Friends of NDSS have said they would continue the battle to keep secondary school education in town, and they are keeping that promise.

Once the Ministry of Education shut down the lines of communication by refusing to even discuss the school board's decision to close Niagara District Secondary School, the Friends took their next step-they have asked for a judicial review from the Superior Court of Justice.

They have hired a Toronto lawyer and filed an affidavit outlining "many unaccountable and unacceptable actions" by the DSBN going back a decade-actions which have led to the closure of Niagara on the Lake's only secondary school, said spokesperson Sandra Cowan.

It was an unwillingness to communicate, on the part of the school board and the ministry, that led to the launching of a legal battle, said Cowan.

None of the information in the affidavit filed with the request for a review is new, she said-it was all in the brief the town compiled and sent to the Minister of Education.

"Some of it deals with points of order and the procedures of voting-the points trustee Gary Atamanyk has been making. Also it brings attention to some of the actions of the school board over the last 10 years and the indications that the closure of NDSS had been predetermined before the last accommodation review took place."

Cowan says it was not an easy decision to make.

"We tried all the proper channels, but they didn't work. We couldn't leave a stone unturned, and this was all that was left for us to do. We hoped the final step would be the request to the Minister of Education, but she washed her hands of it and left it at the local level. If we're not going to get help from the Ministry there is nowhere left for us to turn except to the courts," said Cowan.

"If we don't do this we'd have to walk away and we're not prepared to do that. We have to be sure we've tried everything."

The actual closure date for NDSS is Aug. 31, she said, and though "what the board is doing might indicate it's already closed in their minds doesn't mean it's closed in our minds."

Although current NOTL high school students have made their decisions about where to go in September, the battle the Friends of NDSS are continuing isn't just about them, Cowan said, it's about the future of high school education in NOTL.

This is a "David and Goliath" fight, she said, and has been all along.

"They have all the money and they have all the power, but let's remember who won that battle."

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