Community / Special Needs / Press Release

EMSB plans for new school to accommodate students with different disabilities

students from st raphael
Montreal - Friday, March 22, 2024

The English Montreal School Board has launched a consultation process in order to open a  new school for students with different disabilities. It is being proposed that the school be housed in the Nesbitt Elementary School facility in Rosemount for the 2025-26 academic year and coincide with the closure of St. Raphael Elementary School in Park Extension. 

Over  the last five years, the EMSB has opened numerous self-contained classes to address the needs of our students with specialized needs in mainstream schools.   This has  caused overcrowding in some schools and extended resources across the system. Furthermore, as the EMSB has  a limited number of self-contained classrooms due to the lack of space,   students with complex needs are often placed in  regular classes.   Some students need the type of specialized services that  self-contained classes in regular schools cannot offer.  

St. Raphael School  presently welcomes students with severe socio-emotional and behavioral difficulties. Its success is measured by the fact that it is at full capacity with a waiting list. Due to the increased number of referrals to the EMSB, a location is needed to accommodate   students with severe behavioral difficulties. It will serve two types of clienteles: neurotypical  students with severe behavioral difficulties as well as neurodivergent  students with severe behavioral difficulties and will provide specialized resources and space to address the needs of both groups 

EMSB Chair Joe Ortona states that the objective here is to  explore the need to consolidate a number of its resources in one location and create a center of expertise to better serve our students with different disabilities in Montreal. 

“Having the students with exceptional challenges in a building where there is an existing school with joint activities, such as concerts, carnival days, welcome back festivities, just to name a few, would help facilitate the integration of neurotypical children into a regular setting,” Mr. Ortona said.  “The integration of students with particular needs into a regular setting offers equitable opportunities. and improves the learning outcomes for all children. Studies show that the brains of children with disabilities develop stronger neural connections in a richer and diverse learning environment. Furthermore, students with disabilities add to the diversity of the school which enriches every child’s learning experience. This helps students in the regular school to better understand the need to respect and appreciate societal differences and as a result, students with disabilities are treated with respect by their peers whilst helping them feel a stronger sense of belonging.”

In order to address the needs of the students, the number of children per class will be maintained at an average of six to eight and 112 overall.  By creating this Centre  of Expertise, professionals with specializations will assist EMSB schools in the implementation of best practices for special needs instruction as well as providing direct intervention, guidance, professional development, and the sharing of material. Furthermore, the specialized school would offer ongoing support to parents and families.

Public hearings will take place in September 2024 with a final decision to follow by the Council of Commissioners.

 About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at

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