Skip to main content

Quebec school board responds to allegations against art teacher

Joel DeBellefeuille says his 13-year-old son's portrait, painted by a fellow classmate, appears on several items for sale, including mugs, t-shirts, and iPhone cases. (Source: 1-mario-perron.pixels.com) Joel DeBellefeuille says his 13-year-old son's portrait, painted by a fellow classmate, appears on several items for sale, including mugs, t-shirts, and iPhone cases. (Source: 1-mario-perron.pixels.com)
Share

A Quebec school board has responded to allegations about an art teacher who allegedly listed his students' art for sale without their knowledge, as the number of parents taking legal action has grown.

Earlier this week, a lawyer representing two parents said the pair was seeking $300,000 under the Copyright Act and $50,000 as compensation for moral and punitive damages from teacher Mario Perron and the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) for alleged intellectual property infringement.

The lawyer, Martin DeBellefeuille, announced Friday that he now represents eight parents whose kids attend Westwood Junior High School in Saint-Lazare, Que.

Each parent is now seeking statutory damages of $175,000, for a total of $1.4 million.

Meanwhile, the school board released a statement to parents Thursday informing them that their administrative investigation into the teacher is ongoing.

"In line with our dedication to fairness and respect for every individual involved, it is imperative to note that all matters, particularly those related to HR issues or students, are treated with the utmost confidentiality. This approach is essential to protect the privacy and well-being of all parties involved," the statement read.

The statement from the LBPSB administration went on to say that, so far in its internal investigation, "it would appear that … No picture or print of student work of art was sold as the purchasing feature was disabled."

"Considering that our investigation is ongoing, it would be premature to come to any conclusion."

The LBPSB's comments do not change anything for DeBellefeuille, who claims that intellectual property owners are entitled to statutory damages under section 38 of the Copyright Act whether or not their work is sold.

He is also holding the school board partly responsible, saying that under the Civil Code of Quebec, it is required "to ensure that teachers are evaluated, and their backgrounds, social media profiles, etc., are checked before hiring," he said in a demand letter issued on Tuesday.

According to the letter, the parents have threatened to sue the teacher and the school board in Quebec Superior Court "in the absence of full payment or a serious settlement offer."

The teacher has not responded to multiple requests for comment over the last several days.

The LBPSB's full statement issued on Thursday is below.

Dear Westwood Junior Parents,

As a responsible and dedicated learning organization, the Lester B. Pearson School Board places utmost importance on addressing any matters brought to its attention with diligence, integrity, and discretion. We understand the significance of maintaining a safe and conducive environment for all members of our educational community.

It is our solemn commitment to thoroughly and promptly investigate all matters brought before us. We recognize that some issues may require a more extended period of investigation to ensure a comprehensive understanding and appropriate resolution. Rest assured, every concern raised will receive the attention it deserves, and we will take appropriate action whenever deemed necessary.

In line with our dedication to fairness and respect for every individual involved, it is imperative to note that all matters, particularly those related to HR issues or students, are treated with the utmost confidentiality. This approach is essential to protect the privacy and well-being of all parties involved.

What we can share regarding the information gathered to date, it would appear that:

• No picture or print of student work of art was sold as the purchasing feature was disabled.

Considering that our investigation is ongoing, it would be premature to come to any conclusion.

Respectfully,

Lester B. Pearson School Board Administration

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

BREAKING

BREAKING Group tied to Islamic State plotted fatal Ontario restaurant shooting: Crown

A gunman who is accused of killing a young Ontario man and shooting four of his family members at their small Mississauga restaurant in 2021 was allegedly part of a trio who had pledged allegiance to the listed terrorist group Islamic State, a Crown attorney said in an opening statement in the Brampton murder trial this week.

Stay Connected