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Eight families now taking legal action against teacher who allegedly sold students’ art

The fallout continues after a Montreal-area high school teacher art allegedly sold his students’ work online without their consent.

More parents are now seeking legal action, and their impatience with the school’s response is growing.

“There are some rights that have been disrespected and there are some conclusions or some actions that must be done quickly by the school in order to protect those students,” said Martin DeBellefeuille, a lawyer representing a group of parents.

He was representing two families last week, but now Debellefeuille is the lawyer for the parents of eight high school students at Westwood Junior in Saint-Lazare. The teens allegedly had their art posted for sale online by their art teacher without their consent.

Debellefeuille alleges 96 students had their work posted  for sale online, and that nearly 3,000 now-removed products were listed for between $30 and $120 USD.

He said the school has been collaborating with him so far, but there has been no response from the accused teacher.

“On the teacher’s side, we have no reply so far,” he explained.

He sent an official letter to the Lester B. Pearson School Board and to the teacher demanding action from both parties. His clients want to see the board suspend the teacher temporarily or permanently. They want the teacher to provide a full report of all the online sales made and write an apology letter. $175,000 in compensation is demanded for each affected student, adding up to $1.4 million.

“If we don’t get collaboration or if the demands aren’t met, then the next step is to get an injunction or to go to court,” said Debellefeuille.

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Two of the parents who recently joined the legal proceedings spoke to Global News but did not want their names or faces shown. They say the financial portion of the legal threat is not about the money.

“It’s definitely a lesson for other teachers or other professionals, that you can’t just do this and get away with it,” said the mother of a secondary 2 student.

According to the mothers, the teacher has been replaced by a substitute in their kids’ classes since the scandal made international headlines. The school board would not say if he has been suspended, only that their investigation is ongoing.

“It’s been a bit of a turmoil, in regards to feelings, emotions,” said the mother of a secondary 1 student.

In a letter to parents obtained by Global News, the board  said it’s investigating “thoroughly and promptly.”

“Rest assured, every concern raised will receive the attention it deserves, and we will take appropriate action whenever deemed necessary,” the Lester B. Pearson School Board administration said.

“Every concern raised will receive the attention it deserves, and we will take appropriate action whenever deemed necessary.”

In the letter, the board also claims that “no picture or print of student work of art was sold as the purchasing feature was disabled.”

The parents are skeptical, and say even having the works up for sale is totally unacceptable.  They say the school reacted too slowly, and has not yet spoken to many of the affected students.

“I still feel that we need more explanation,” said the parents of the secondary 1 student.

The lawyer said he expects more parents could come forward to join the legal proceedings. The parents want to be present if and when school authorities meet with their children.

The Pearson Teachers Union said it could not comment at this time.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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