Quebec teens accused of sharing explicit photos of female classmates not allowed back to private school
Boys, aged 12 and 13 at time of alleged incident, not allowed to return to Séminaire des Pères Maristes
Six teenage boys accused of sharing explicit photos of their female classmates will not be returning to Séminaire des Pères Maristes, a private high school near Quebec City, for the upcoming school year.
The school announced the decision Monday in response to mounting pressure, and as students are expected to return for classes on Aug. 27.
The six boys, aged 12 and 13 at the time of the alleged incident, were suspended from school last spring, and then allowed to return.
The parents of three of the boys willingly took them out of school after the allegations were made — the school's announcement Monday confirmed that the three others will not be readmitted.
"The decision we make today is the only one that allows us to put in place a calm environment," said father Yvan Mathieu, president of the school's board of directors.
Mathieu said the school also aimed to send "an unequivocal signal that the alleged actions are unacceptable and incompatible with our values and our code of conduct."
Boys initially suspended, but allowed to return
The boys were suspended for six days last year when the complaints came to light.
They were then allowed to return to the Séminaire. They attended classes in a building adjacent to the school, however, with a different schedule and no possible contact with the alleged victims.
According to the principal, François Sylvain, the school was waiting for the results of a police investigation into the incident before it decided on whether it would allow the boys to return to class this coming school year.
The boys were arrested in May in connection with the possession and distribution of child pornography.
They were released on condition that they would appear in court at a later date, and Quebec City police say they are still investigating what happened.
Sylvain said the school decided to act despite the fact that the police investigation is ongoing, and its board of directors met Saturday to discuss the situation.
"This decision was made in the interest of having a harmonious and serene back-to-school for our 650 students and for the alleged victims," Sylvain said.
Province urged to tackle bullying at private schools
Quebec's Ministry of Education has been working with the school for several weeks to try to improve the mechanisms in place to process complaints of bullying.
"It's the adults who have to work to protect children, and that's what's happening right now in the school," Minister of Education Sébastien Proulx said Monday.
Last week, a group of parents called on the ministry to do more to address bullying at private schools across the province.
With files from Radio-Canada