Estrie Language School has been in business since 1986 when Louise Charest created it in Sherbrooke, Que. It has since launched classrooms in Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Gatineau, Que.
The school has taught hundreds of public servants in the nation’s capital since its opening and it’s one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the area.
But teachers said the future is suddenly uncertain.
“(The supervisors) told us they are going bankrupt, but we don't know if it's true because the owners are absent,” said teacher Frederick Archambault, who was joined by some of the hundreds of other teachers Friday night.
Abdourahman Kahin said he was surprised and shocked by the news.
Teachers told they might not receive money owed
Estrie’s owner and president, Louise Charest, could not be reached for comment. The school’s website also makes no reference to closing or bankruptcy.
Archambault, Kahin and other teachers also said supervisors warned staff they might not receive their final paycheques, let alone severance packages.
One teacher said she was owed $3,000 and she would fight to get that money.
On Friday, the sprawling school in downtown Ottawa was empty with sets of keys left behind, as well as empty lockers and open cabinets full of files with information on current clients.
The teachers admitted they saw signs of financial troubles at the school. Competition from other language schools and a push towards online courses drove down tuition fees.
The school seems to see the move to online, as in 2012 it launched a new distance-learning program through a virtual classroom.