- School reverses decision denying teen a chance to attend graduation
A Montreal-area high school has backed down after initially denying a teen with autism a chance to attend his graduation.
Trevor Jackson, 17, isn't officially graduating with an academic diploma, but he has spent four years at Félix-Leclerc Secondary School in Pointe-Claire and has met the objectives of his specialized program.
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His mother, Maryse Savoie, had argued he should be able attend.
Following a flurry of media reports about the controversy, the Marguerite Bourgeoys School Board issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying it would re-examine its policy.
Shortly afterward, Savoie said she received a call from the school principal saying Trevor would be invited to the graduation ceremony after all.
"We're very happy," she told CBC. "It's too bad that we had to go so far to make this happen."
Earlier, Savoie said she thought it would be obvious that the school should let her son attend, and that Trevor has been interested since watching his sister's ceremony.
"It's an important milestone for students when they finish," said Savoie, who said it had been "a big disappointment," when her son was not invited.
When she approached her son's teacher in February to discuss how Trevor could celebrate finishing at Félix-Leclerc, the teacher had been supportive of the idea of Trevor attending graduation.
Weeks later, however, the administration said that he was not invited because he wasn't in the academic high school program.
"To me, I have trouble understanding the reasoning," said Savoie.
Fighting for inclusion
Savoie said she's been fighting for Trevor's inclusion for his entire life. The struggle to involve him in his own graduation is "the cherry on the sundae," she said.
"I think they can be an inspiration for others. It's an opportunity missed by the schools to give an example to other students. It's important to include people who are different."
School officials had earlier offered to commemorate his time at Félix-Leclerc by acknowledging it at a special school event called the Méritas Gala.
Trevor was one of three students not invited to the graduation, and the administration suggested all three of them could be recognized at the Méritas Gala.
Nobody on the board would grant interviews, while the school referred a request for comment to the school board.
In its statement, the school board pointed out that students in specialized programs continue their schooling at another school until they are 21 years old and are welcome to attend the ceremonies there.