Petition with more than 1,500 signatures in support of Petite school given to Furey

by Michael Lee

This story has been updated.

The push to keep Petite Riviere Elementary School open may soon head to the provincial legislature.

A petition asking for the Lunenburg County school to stay open has been handed to Justice Minister and MLA for Lunenburg West, Mark Furey.

Stacey Godsoe, chair of the Greater Petite Area Community Association, said the petition has more than 1,500 signatures from "far and wide," challenging the "unfair process [and] decision making by the school board."

The association had a hearing for a judicial review on September 7 in Halifax Supreme Court, challenging the South Shore Regional School Board's decision to close Petite Riviere school by July 31, 2018.

The board has said in the past that preventing the upcoming closure of the school would require an act of the provincial legislature.

Godsoe said they have spoken with Education Minister Zach Churchill and feel there are still steps the provincial government and Department of Education can take in the association's favour.

"Making legislation retroactive, legislating that we stay open, there are a number of things that could still happen, irregardless of the results of the judicial review today," Godsoe told reporters following the September 7 hearing.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the minister will refrain from commenting on the decision to close Petite Riviere school as it is currently subject to a judicial review.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said Minister Furey has received the petition.

"There is a process in place for submissions of petitions to the Legislature which will be followed."

School board communications coordinator Theresa Schroder said the board followed the correct school review process as mandated in the Education Act before it made the decision to close Petite Riviere school.

She said an impact assessment report was produced and a study committee composed of the school advisory council was established. The study committee provided a written response to the board and public meetings were held.

"It was a difficult decision but it was done properly and fairly according to the Education Act."

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