The inability to hire three teachers forces a specialty school in Montreal to move students to three other locations on the eve of the start of the school year. Informed at the last minute of this change of course, one mother laments the lack of planning of the Center de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) and the impact on the most vulnerable students.
“We again ask children to learn how to deal with rapid changes in this way, especially since they are children with difficulties. It’s counterproductive, it’s not normal,” Barbara drops, who prefers to keep her last name quiet so as not to harm her child. Her daughter, who has developed great fears and a school phobia, was due to attend the specialized secondary school Espace-Jeunesse next week. The facility is tailored for adolescents with behavioral, emotional and relationship problems.
“On the advice of specialists, we changed location this year. This week she had read her school notes again and asked questions. And suddenly we have to tell him that it doesn’t work anymore,” Barbara says. She heard the news on Wednesday, after she had received a message from the management.
“In this atypical school year, despite all the recruitment efforts of the Center de services scolaire de Montréal, three permanent teaching positions have not been filled,” we read in a statement signed by the director that The duty consulted. “In the interest of [servir] In order to ensure that our students with special needs work in the best possible safety, I regret to announce that your child will be trained in another specialized school of the CSSDM,” she wrote.
“Although we [ayons] would have preferred it differently, know that we will do everything we can to mitigate the challenges of adaptation associated with this transition,” we are assured.
A denounced management method
The duty revealed Thursday that the CSSDM had to close groups and divide the students among other classes because several teaching positions had not been filled. “We know that these decisions are not being taken smoothly and that this exceptional measure is disrupting the school organization,” said an internal email sent Wednesday evening by the CSSDM general management.
“It is unacceptable,” said Patricia Clermont, spokesperson for the movement I protect my public school. It weakens a student’s academic perseverance and motivation. I know there’s nothing smart about this decision, but I’m baffled by the lack of proactiveness. »
She adds that the teacher shortage problem has been looming for years. “Socially and politically, we let it go and we come to the bottleneck. According to her, by closing classes instead of leaving them without teachers, managers have “chosen the lesser of two evils. But we agree that these are two evils.
According to Catherine Beauvais St-Pierre, president of the Alliance of Teachers of Montreal, it is more difficult to recruit teachers for specialized schools. “We’re talking about special education teachers developing expertise here,” she says. Teachers are not running down the street now, but special education teachers, even less so. »
Added to this is the special context of the Espace-Jeunesse school, which plans to one day close its doors to merge with the Henri-Julien school, explains Marie Contant, vice president at the Alliance and responsible for the school file. “There is a lack of information and unpredictability due to the shutdown, so we are witnessing a staff relocation,” she said, denouncing a “mess” and lack of transparency.
Because there is a labor shortage, it has been easy for disgruntled teachers to leave and find jobs elsewhere as their expertise is sought. “We feel that there is still a certain way of management in the CSSDM that is backward and that does not take into account the deficit,” emphasizes Catherine Beauvais St-Pierre.
Lack of communication
Barbara’s daughter will therefore be “trained” at the Henri-Julien specialized school from August 26, according to the message she received. She will reportedly receive a call from an employee of the new school in the coming days. Despite everything, Barbara tried to make contact, but tripped over the answering machine a few times. She wondered if the school supplies were correct and wanted to know the date and time of the start of the school year, since the school calendar was not on the school’s website.
To their relief, the family finally heard back on Thursday afternoon. Next Wednesday is the start of the school year.
She doesn’t want to blame the two schools, but she would have liked a little bit of predictability “so everyone out there is good”. “When a difficult situation like this arises, the first thing the CSSDM should do is communicate with the parents and provide detailed information,” she suggests.
Asked by The duty, the CSSDM has indicated that students affected by the lack of teachers in Espace-Jeunesse will be welcomed in three specialized schools on its territory. “As with every new school year, the parents meet. The displaced students will be contacted directly by the management or stakeholders of the new schools they will attend,” said spokesperson Alain Perron by email.
He did not say whether students from other schools should also be transferred due to a lack of teachers or how many vacancies still have to be filled.