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Parents take legal action after Quebec teacher allegedly lists students' art for sale online


A pair of Quebec parents is taking legal action after their children's art teacher allegedly listed their children's art for sale online without their knowledge.

The parents sent a letter through a bailiff on Tuesday to their kids' teacher, Mario Perron, and the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) to demand $350,000 in moral and punitive damages for alleged intellectual property breaches. Their demands also include a formal apology and for the art to be removed from the teacher's website.

Last Thursday, CTV News reported that students at Westwood Junior High School in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Lazare learned their art was posted online when they searched their teacher's name on Google.

The story has gained international attention and made news headlines in Australia, the U.K., and the United States.

Days after first learning the art has appeared online, some of the parents involved have decide to act.

"The items, priced between 30USD and 120USD, were used without the consent of their creators, in bad faith, and in violation of all laws related to the intellectual property of an artist. Nothing authorized Mr. Perron to appropriate the work of his students for personal gains. This act is even more egregious as it stems from the use of material created by students in a school setting, under authority, and sold with impunity at high prices," their demand letter alleged.

The legal notice was sent on behalf of parents Joel DeBellefeuille and Edith Liard and was addressed to the LBPSB chair and commissioner. Liard felt that she had no choice but to get lawyers involved because she said the school board has left her in the dark about the whole ordeal.

"I wish the school would have come forward and say, 'Listen, we just found out what happened and we're sorry about the event. And we will keep you posted with an investigation or something,' and, nothing. And the teacher didn't even take the art down. So, for me, that's not acceptable," Liard said in an interview on Tuesday.

"[The teacher's] not reaching out. He's not taking down the art. The school is not reaching out to us. Nobody's letting us know what's going on. So, no, I think legal action needs to be taken. This is why I'm doing it."

Darren Becker, a spokesperson for the school board, confirmed in an email to CTV News that it received the letter and that it "has subsequently been sent to the school board's insurance company so we have nothing else to add at this time."

The school board said in an email last week that it had opened an administrative investigation into the incident and that it "is taking these allegations very seriously."

The parents have threatened to take the matter to court if the teacher and the board do not pay them the damages being sought and comply with the other demands within five days.

Last week, DeBellefeuille told CTV News that he was shocked when his 13-year-old son came home from school last week and told him that he found a portrait another student had painted of him in class had been posted online with a price tag of $151.

That drawing, along with those by several other students, appeared on multiple items listed for sale, including coffee mugs, t-shirts, yoga mats, and iPhone cases. On Tuesday afternoon, the students' art was still visible on the teacher's website, but by the evening hours it appeared that it had been removed.

Perron's LinkedIn and Facebook accounts were also no longer accessible Tuesday evening.

Several attempts to reach the teacher last week were unsuccessful. He did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon. Top Stories

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