A 4-year-old girl will not be able to attend the same public school as her older brother after being refused the international education program offered to all students at this school. His parents consider the situation “unacceptable”.
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Sabrina Ouellet and Louis-Michel Langevin live less than 200 meters from the Monseigneur-Robert school, located in the Beauport sector of Quebec.
Their son, Benjamin, who is in second grade, goes there every morning.
To be admitted, all students of this school which offers the international education program had to pass the selection process, unlike other public schools which offer the same education to all students in the neighborhood.
In December, M.me Ouellet accompanies her daughter, Frédérique, to school so that she participates in a “selection activity” of about an hour, in view of her admission to 5-year-old kindergarten next year.
A few weeks later, the mother learns that her daughter is refused because of her behavior and her results in mathematics.
For the parents, the surprise is total. When their son was registered, they were told that places were reserved for the brothers and sisters of students already registered.
And their daughter’s teacher – who is in 4-year-old kindergarten at another school – has nothing but good things to say about her.
“My daughter wants to go to the same school as her brother next year, which is across the street, but she can’t. How do I explain that to a four-year-old child? says Sabrina Ouellet.
Not just for the neighborhood
The mother denounces an “arbitrary” procedure, since the selection process was not the same for her two children, she says.
Such “discrimination” has no place in a public primary school which should be accessible to students in the neighborhood, she adds.
At the Première-Seigneuries school service center, it is indicated that places are given priority to siblings, but only after the younger brothers or sisters have passed their test.
The school service center has chosen to make this particular program accessible to all students in the territory because of the high interest of parents, explains its secretary general, Martine Chouinard.
The number of applications for this program is twice as high as the number of places available.
“From the moment when, as a parent, I choose to enroll my child in a particular program, you have to be aware that it is possible that another child from the same family will not be accepted. The rules are very well explained,” says Ms. Chouinard.
An increasingly rare situation
Public schools that pass admission tests from kindergarten for the international education program are increasingly rare, according to SÉBIQ, the organization that accredits and supports Quebec schools where this training is taught.
Originally, the international education program was designed to be offered to all students, without selection, according to this organization.
A legal practice, according to the Ministry of Education
Admission tests for kindergarten in a public school in Quebec comply with the Education Act (LIP), according to the Ministry of Education.
This is what we can read in an email sent to Sabrina Ouellet, the mother of little Frédérique, after she had filed a complaint about it.
A public school that imposes admission criteria on all its students for a particular educational project must have received ministerial approval allowing it to obtain special purpose school status, under section 240 of the Education Act.
A single structure
This is not the case with the Monseigneur-Robert school in Beauport.
However, this establishment is part of École de l’Harmonie, an administrative structure that also includes École Saint-Édouard, another building located 1.6 kilometers away where the regular program is offered.
In general, it is permitted to offer a special selective program in a public school provided that the regular program is also offered there, accessible to all.
Administratively, the Monseigneur-Robert building and the Saint-Édouard building are part of the same school, that of Harmony, which makes this kind of practice legal, indicates the Ministry of Education.
Little Frédérique was therefore accepted at the École de l’Harmonie, but in the regular program of the Saint-Édouard pavilion.
“sleight of hand”
His parents see it as an administrative sleight of hand to bring a practice into conformity that they question.
They hope to mobilize other families in the area so that this school becomes a neighborhood school again, as was the case when Louis-Michel Langevin walked there every morning when he was little.
For its part, the Première-Seigneuries school service center replies that parents can decide to send their two children to Saint-Édouard school, in the regular program, if they want them to attend the same establishment.