Underfunded and overcrowded Montreal school 'dangerous'
Hochelaga-Maisonneuve school teaches life skills to young adults with intellectual disabilities
Cramped quarters at a Hochelaga-Maisonneuve school for young adults with intellectual disabilities have some worried for the safety of their children.
Vania Aguiar is the mother of a child who attends Irénée-Lussier school on Hochelaga Street near Pie-IX Boulevard. The school is part of the French-language Montreal school board, CSDM.
"Henri-Louis is 18 years old. He has a moderate intellectual disability. He is a very happy boy, he loves to go to school," she told Daybreak Friday morning.
The mandate of the school is to teach young people with disabilities the life skills they’ll need once they start their adult lives at 21.
However, Aguiar says, the school has a very serious space issue that endangers both students and personnel.
"He doesn’t have a behaviour problem, but in his class, it’s a small space with 12 to 13 or 14 kids, and there are three of them who have behaviour problems," she says.
The lack of space in the classrooms, and in the school in general, is seriously problematic, she says. Aguiar recounts an incident last year at the school when an out-of-control student had to be put in the hallway because there was no space in the classroom to safely deal with an outburst.
"It makes me more than sad — it makes me mad. All this time, because we are working as a parent with the teachers and the principal to make sure we can get a better space for these kids…" Aguiar says.
"I’m sad to know our government is not listening."
She says she’s asked Quebec Education Minister Marie Malavoy several times to come and visit Irénée-Lussier to give her a clearer picture of how dire the situation is at the school.
Federal Bloc Québécois MP Maria Mourani will be touring the school this afternoon, and Aguiar hopes it gets Malavoy's attention.
"If she comes and visits and sees the situation, she will take action immediately. I’m convinced," Aguiar says.
School principal Gérald Gauthier says he's asked for the province's help as well, to no reply. He says a new school is sorely needed.
Catherine Renaud, president of the Montreal Teachers’ Association, agrees with Aguiar and Gauthier.
She says that in her six years with the association, the school’s overcrowding problem has always been an issue. She says Malavoy needs to come through with more funding for the school.
"There’s not enough space in the school to do everything we can do to teach to these children everyday life," Renaud told Daybreak.