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Parents want Cardinal Heights closure reviewed

By Gord Bowes, News staff

Central Mountain parents want the Ministry of Education to put a halt to recently announced school closures.

Sarah Warry-Poljanski has filed a request for an administrative review on behalf of the Cardinal Heights Middle School community.

After a seven-month review, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board decided in June that Cardinal Heights, Eastmount Park and Linden Park will close next June.

Warry-Poljanski says she spent two weeks “day and night” pouring over school board and ministry policies and found several issues that should be reviewed.

The mother of two has a daughter who attends Cardinal Heights and a son who attends Linden Park.

She said she could not find problems with the board’s process that could save Linden or Eastmount.

A public school board spokesman said last week it had not received notice from the ministry regarding an administrative review.

“Requests for administrative reviews are part of the accommodation review process and the board will respond accordingly,” said Mark Taylor.

Warry-Poljanski said parents and community members, about 100 of which backed the review request with their signatures, are concerned about problems with data about the condition of schools that were part of the review. It shouldn’t be parents’ responsibility to point out errors, she said.

She also noted the closure committee members didn’t get to visit Cardinal Heights for an up-close look at the building. It was cancelled due to a small fire the day of a planned visit as part of a tour of schools under review.

“They didn’t get a visual of what value there is,” said Warry-Poljanski.

She said she hopes the ministry will take a closer look and ask why some schools were better maintained than others.

In the request, Warry-Poljanski also noted many residents do not speak English and were at a disadvantage during the process.

“Newcomers to Canada who don’t fully understand social programming and schools are unable to voice concerns when they are unaware of the ‘norms’ and social structures,” she wrote.

The ministry says the administrative review process determines whether a closure review was undertaken in a manner consistent with the board’s policy, but does not change the final decision.

In 2012, a request to overturn the decision to close Hill Park high school was denied. The Ministry of Education said there was no basis for an administrative review of the process Hamilton public school trustees used to decide the central Mountain high school, along with Barton and Mountain, should close.

In 2013, Dundas parents won a small victory regarding the planned closure of Parkside Secondary School. The ministry found the accommodation review process that resulted in a recommendation to close Parkside violated the board’s own policy, but the violation had no significant impact on the final decision.

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