Below is a letter on behalf of PNP that Chair, Shirl Delarue, sent to The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of the Province of Ontario and The Honourable Liz Sandals, Minister of Education for the Province of Ontario. The recommendations enclosed can be found here.
March 1, 2013
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
The Honourable Liz Sandals
Minister of Education
22nd Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2
Dear Premier Wynne and Minister Sandals,
I am writing to you on behalf of Peterborough Needs PCVS, a seventeen member committee whose mandate was to save Peterborough Collegiate (PCVS) from closure and to co-ordinate the work of hundreds of citizens in this effort.
Through exhaustive analysis from the outset of the ARC until the present, we developed an understanding of the need to revise and strengthen the MEDU Accommodation Review and Administrative Review guidelines and processes. Our recommendations are also informed by our experience as applicants in a judicial review which was heard by the Divisional Court of Ontario at Osgoode Hall in June, 2012.
Our purpose in developing the recommendations which follow is not to make it impossible for Boards of Education to close schools but rather to ensure that Boards make the best possible decisions in a consultative and transparent fashion. We expect our provincial leaders to set the highest possible standards to ensure that Boards of Education make decisions which are both educationally and fiscally sound.
We urge you to give serious consideration to the attached recommendations. Please know that we are willing to meet to further elaborate on the suggestions we have made to change policy and practice in order to produce better outcomes for students and communities.
Shirl Delarue, Chair
Co-ordinating Committee, Peterborough Needs PCVS
Cc: Jeff Leal, MPP Peterborough and Minister of Rural Affairs
George Zegarac, Deputy Minister of Education
Nancy Whynot, Director, Capital Programs Branch
To PCVS Supporters:
This will be the last communication from the Co-ordinating Committee for PNP.
The committee held a final meeting on Monday, January 21, 2013 to address outstanding issues. What follows is a summary of the decisions made at that meeting and the subsequent actions taken:
Collins Barrow, LLF has completed a Review Engagement Report and found our finances to be in good order and compliant with Canadian Accounting Standards for not-for-profit organizations. We are posting the summary page (link above) of this review on the website along with this communication.
To be more specific about PNP’s finances, the overriding message is that we have been able to honour all of our administrative, legal and court costs, including the recent $25,000 award of costs handed down by the judges presiding over the judicial review.
By way of background information, we raised approximately $195,000.00 specifically for our legal fund in April 2012 to allow us to proceed with a request for an injunction and a judicial review. This money was held separately in trust with the Lockington, Lawless, Fitzpatrick (LLF) law firm. We topped up that sum by approximately $15,000.00 from general donations made to PNP before our fundraiser was officially launched at the April 5 public meeting at St. Paul’s Church.
Legal expenses billed by our lawyers (Perley-Robertson, Hill& McDougall, LLP, Ottawa), totaled approximately $184,000.00. That, along with the $25,000 award of costs, more than used up the funds held in trust for legal and court expenses and thus there will be no rebates to our donors.
Our committee views our lawyers’ costs as not only reasonable but generous for three reasons:
- first, we retained 3 lawyers up to 6 months in advance of our decision to proceed through the courts
- secondly, our lawyers had to prepare for a labour-intensive two part process: an injunction and a judicial review, each of which demanded different arguments and approaches. KPR had to prepare for the judicial review only.
- finally, over a period of many months we sent our lawyers mountains of material which they had to peruse in order to determine their usefulness in our case.
After all costs have been honoured, PNP is left with approximately $13,000.00 from the operating account (which has always been separate from our legal fund account). The committee passed a motion, supported unanimously, to give these funds to the Peterborough Collegiate Foundation to be used in ways consistent with the objects of that Foundation. We stated at the November 3rd and April 5th public meetings that we intended to do this should we be left with unallocated monies in our operating account.
The Peterborough Collegiate Foundation will remain as an entity under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough until all former PCVS students have graduated from high school. The Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough will look after all administrative functions of the Peterborough Collegiate Foundation.
The Closure of PCVS: The Community Response (January/11 to February/13)
Jeff and Krista Macklin have created this book duplicating all our letters of support, media coverage including editorials, photos and letters to the editor – all related to our struggle to overturn the Board’s decision to close PCVS. It is approximately 200 pages in length. The books will be available on a cost only basis for $20.00 contingent on a minimum order of 30 copies. Contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org to order a copy. This should be done between now and April 1, 2013.
Dr. Mark Seasons and a colleague at the University of Western Ontario will be using PCVS as part of a case study focused on school closure decision-making processes throughout the province.
Locally, a fourth year Trent student is writing a history of the PNP movement. This research project was approved by the Trent Centre for Community-Based Education.
On the expiry of our current domain registration, PNP will be found as a link on the PCVS Foundation website and will exist there for archival purposes only.
Several members of the Co-ordinating Committee, with input from our lawyers, have drafted a set of Recommendations with a view to improving the school closure process. These recommendations will be sent to the Premier, the Minister of Education and KPR. In addition, they will be posted on the website 2-3 days after this posting.
A motion to disband PNP, once all outstanding business is completed, was passed unanimously.
A final word.
The Co-ordinating Committee of PNP is deeply appreciative of the broad support it received in our efforts to help save the school. It was an extraordinary experience to be part of a community effort of people united by one goal. In spite of the outcome, our battle was, we believe, a model for how responsible citizens should behave when confronted with arbitrary and ill informed decisions.
Your generosity in time spent and dollars donated was truly extraordinary. Thank you.
Respectfully Submitted by
Joanne Brown*, Chair of Communications and on behalf of:
Shirl Delarue*, Chair of the Co-ordination Committee of PNP
Mary Anna Zakula
*the 10 individuals who agreed to be named as applicants in the legal case along with Bill Templeman and Catherine Dibbon
To all PNP supporters,
Our lawyers received the following decision from the judges regarding the award of costs this afternoon. The Co-ordinating Committee will meet as soon in the new year as possible to discuss the implications of that decision. We will post on the PNP website a more detailed communication shortly after that meeting.
Chair, Co-ordinating Committee for PNP
Ontario Superior Court of Justice Cost Endorsement (PDF) decision in the case of Shirl DeLarue vs. Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.
I trust this finds each of you at the end of a good and restorative summer.
I wanted to give you an update although there is not a great deal of news.
First, a number of weeks ago we made an inquiry of Aaron Rubinoff, our lead lawyer, regarding the estimated timeline for the judges’ release of their rationale to support KPRDSB in its process to close PCVS. Aaron thought we might see the report mid-August to early September. We have yet to see it. As we have promised in the past, we will publish the report on the PNP website as soon as it is available to us.
After the judges release the report, our lawyers and the Board’s, have 2 weeks to appear before these same three judges to argue the issue of the award of costs. We will communicate the outcome of that deliberation as soon as we know it.
This afternoon Shirl Delarue, Jay Amer and Mary Anna Zakula met with a C.A. from Collins Barrow, a local firm of chartered accountants, to begin the process of reviewing our financial statements. Once we have the judges’ decision regarding an award of costs and have paid our final legal costs, Collins Barrow will produce a “Review Engagement Report” in accordance with Canadian Accounting Standards for Not-For-Profit Organizations. This report will be available for those who supported our efforts to keep PCVS open.
Our thoughts at this point are very much with PCVS students and staff who are making their adjustment to new schools. I am confident that our thoughts are echoed by yours as we wish all of them the most positive of experiences under new circumstances.
Our lawyer, Aaron Rubinoff, has recently responded to my inquiry regarding the expected time-line for our receiving the Court’s rationale for its June ruling. Aaron anticipates that we will hear from the Court in late August or early September. Once the report is released, both PNP and KPR lawyers must provide costs submissions to the Court within a two week period. The Court will likely render its decision re any award of costs shortly thereafter. Until we have this decision we must maintain our legal fund in the trust account at LLF law firm.
In the meantime, Jay Amer and Bill Lockington will write to the Board on behalf of the Peterborough Collegiate Foundation to request that the Board donate PCVS archival materials to the Peterborough Centennial Museum and Archives. The Director of the Museum has indicated that she would like to receive donated materials to add to the PCVS Archive which we created in 2002 at the time of the 175th Anniversary. It is critical that all PCVS archives be preserved as they reflect the history of the City and County of Peterborough.
As soon as we receive the Court’s rationale we will post it on PNP and send out an attendant announcement.
Like so many hundreds of you, I continue to struggle to accept a decision that was so irrational and that was clearly not in the best interests of either students, present and future, or the City of Peterborough itself. However, it is my hope that students and staff are now making adjustments to the new reality and that they will be able to enter their new schools in September with grace and optimism, and at the same time, a feeling that however long they were at PCVS, they were fortunate to have been there.
Chair, Co-ordinating Committee, Peterborough Needs PCVS
Last week we met as a Co-ordinating Committee to deal with outstanding issues. In that meeting we agreed on some key points which we would like to share with all those who supported the campaign to overturn the Board’s decision to close PCVS. These come in no particular order:
- At this juncture we are primarily concerned about the welfare of PCVS students and their transition to their next school in September. While we realize the Board would never allow PNP to have a formal role in advocating for, or supporting our students, we will encourage the Board to bring every possible resource to mitigate the negative impact of this transition.
- Looking back, we know that we conducted our campaign in an honest, thorough and ethical manner throughout.
- We regret the divisiveness that this struggle has created in our community. That divisiveness was set in motion when the Director of Education set up a two-school closure option that predictably pitted one school community against another. Our focus was always on the merits of PCVS; never on criticisms of other schools.
- We are deeply aware of the impact of this decision on the staff of PCVS, some of whom have spent their entire careers at this school – not out of an absence of alternatives but out of a commitment to everything this school stands for. We could not know the depth of their loss and our hearts go out to them.
- We commend the PCVS students and the leadership that emerged during this campaign. We hope that what many students have gained in terms of navigating the choppy waters of democratic principles and peaceful protest will eventually outweigh their sense of grief and loss.
- We continue to believe that the closing of the last school in the downtown core will have a negative impact on the City of Peterborough with its ambitious Central Area, Cultural and Sustainability plans and we remain deeply disappointed that City Council and our MPP did not provide assertive leadership in advocating for the City of Peterborough and in particular, for the health of its downtown.
- With respect to the Board’s September 29th decision, ‘Then, Now and Forever’ we are left with the same question: why would KPR close such an inarguably successful and iconic school?
Looking forward: PNP will dissolve as an organizational structure once we have dealt with all remaining financial issues such as the outstanding FOI’s, final legal fees owing and the outcome of the judges’ decision regarding an award of costs, should one be applied to the 10 Applicants. As previously stated, we will have an independent accountant conduct a final ‘audit’ which will be made available to supporters.
In addition, we will work on a report with recommendations for other communities who may be facing a similar situation. The authors will be soliciting input at a later date.
Right now it is difficult to escape the weight of sadness and the sense of injustice and consequent anger. But from a parallel perspective, we all must know that what we did collectively, driven by a singleness of purpose, was a model of responsible community action in the face of a decision which was made with little regard for the community this Board purports to serve.
Shirl Delarue, Chair, on behalf of the Co-ordinating Committee of ‘Peterborough Needs PCVS’
Mary Anna Zakula
Isabel Henniger (advisor)
We are very disappointed with the findings of the court. We believe the closure of PCVS, a uniquely effective, progressive and inclusive high school, represents a loss of inestimable magnitude for the city and for the students and staff, past and present. We will continue to support and advocate for PCVS students as they transition to their new schools.
We extend our gratitude to all those within and outside the community who supported our efforts to maintain PCVS as a viable and thriving school. We are confident that the law firm of Perley Robertson and in particular our lawyers Mr. Aaron Rubinoff, Ms. Karen Page and Mr. Dan Taylor brought the very best case possible to court on June 6 and 7th and we are extremely appreciative of their deep commitment to our cause.
I am heartbroken by the outcome as I know you will be as well. I am not sure that it matters much but I am comforted by the fact that PNP did everything it possibly could to fight for a different outcome.
I expect that we will receive the reasons sometime later in the summer.
R. Aaron Rubinoff
Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l.
Peterborough Needs PCVS v. Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board
Before the Honourable Jennings J., Polowin J. and Wilton-Siegel JJ
June 18, 2012
Application is dismissed for written reasons to be delivered. At the conclusion of the hearing on June 6th, 2012 we reserved our decision indicating to counsel that we would attempt to comply with their understandable request to deliver a decision as quickly as possible. We appreciate that the issues raised are important to the parties and also to the community served by the Board. In an attempt to address the desire of the parties to know the outcome quickly, we can advise them now that we are agreed that this application must be dismissed for written reasons to follow.