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OTTAWA – Parents at Omer-Deslauriers Public High School in Ottawa have taken two legal actions: one concerning the school’s choice to direct a significant number of students to a mathematics program that does not can give them access to post-secondary education that is referred to as the “ local level ”, the other on falsifying report cards. This school is part of the Council of Public Schools of Eastern Ontario (CEPEO).
A parent of this school, Mr. Yousef Fouzar, says that it was during the 2019-2020 school year that a large contingent of students was assigned to the local mathematics level.
“The school has between 26 and 28 pupils in the local level”, affirms Mr. Fouzar.
“There are two levels, theoretical and applied. These two programs can converge into post-secondary study, at university or college. And then there is what is called the local level. It is reserved for students with great learning difficulties. This program is not going to end up in university, unless the twelfth grade students go back to the ninth grade to recover the lessons they did not have, ”Mr. Fouzar sums up.
The high number of students who ended up in the local level program also had the effect of inflating the school’s score at the provincial level in the area of mathematics, since students who take this program do not. ministry reviews.
“This large number in this program was unique to our school. These same students do not take the ministry’s provincial mathematics test (TPM). As a result, the school’s score was one of the highest in the province, ”says Fouzar.
Allegations of report forgery and racism
The other lawsuit concerns the falsification of school reports.
Another parent at the school, Mourad Mazigh, says his daughter had three mathematics teachers between September and December 2020. A teacher started the year but, subsequently, two classes were merged and another teacher started the year. took over, but he fell ill. He was succeeded by a substitute teacher, but Mr. Mazigh says that his research shows that this teacher did not have the skills to teach mathematics.
With a doctorate in mathematics, Mr. Mazigh has been able to track his daughter’s progress in her learning. Worried about his child’s progress, he contacted the school in mid-December.
“It was at that time that I informed the school, because I noticed that my daughter was having problems in terms of learning mathematics (…). I asked for proof of learning and proof of assessment, ”says Mazigh.
He goes on to say that “following emails, the principal admitted that ultimately there is no proof of learning, but that they (the students) have studied”. Mr. Mazigh disputes this assertion.
“They ended up issuing a newsletter and in the newsletter they had no choice. They ended up putting an incomplete note. Worse still, in the comments, I see that they talk about themes that have never been studied, ”says Mr. Mazigh. And according to him, the note “i” (incomplete) in the report card confirms that part of the subject was not taught.
“This” i “is going to pursue her all her life”, indignant Mr. Mazigh.
Due to the ethnic makeup of the school, allegations of racism were raised in connection with the alleged facts.
The lawyer retained by the parents who took legal action, Mr. Yavar Hameed, explains the reasons for these allegations.
“The link with racism is that the Omer-Deslauriers public high school has a certain percentage of students who come from various origins: Muslims, Blacks, etc., over 90%. This school is not the priority for the Council ”, notes the lawyer.
“Actions and gestures of the Council and the school go against the policies of the CÉPEO and the policies of the province which say that there is an obligation to provide an equitable and equal education for all students and to transparent way, ”he continues.
He will therefore defend this aspect of the lawsuit based on statistics which would show significant disparities between the Omer-Deslauriers public high school and other comparable establishments.
Towards a ministry investigation?
The Eastern Ontario Public School Board (CÉPEO), of which this school is a part, declined to comment on these two lawsuits. “We are aware of the situation. Out of respect for the legal process, we will not make any further comments, ”said CÉPEO’s communications directorate.
Parents have turned to the courts, but ultimately what they want is intervention from the ministry.
“The goal of our approach is to see the Ministry of Education open a public inquiry into the CÉPEO and its practices,” insists Mr. Fouzar.
He adds that the education minister’s office was approached through Ottawa West-Nepean Conservative MP Jeremy Roberts.
“The minister’s office sent us a note through our provincial deputy saying that ” given the complexity of this file, we need more time,” “says Fouzar.
The initial complaint was sent to the Minister of Education on February 28, and parents say they are disappointed not to receive a response before the end of classes.