Montreal

Quebec students suspended for skipping ethics class

Some parents in Quebec's Eastern Townships say they may take legal action against their local school board after their children were suspended for not attending a mandatory ethics and religion class.

Some parents in Quebec's Eastern Townships say they may take legal action against their local school board after their children were suspended for not attending a mandatory ethics and religion class.

The parents have children at the École secondaire J.H. Leclerc in Granby, where the mandatory course has been taught since September.

They notified the school that they told their children that they didn't have to attend the class — and the students were suspended.

The parents have sent a legal letter to the school board, said Jean-Yves Côté, a lawyer representing the group.

"We asked the schools to remove this notice of suspension," he said. "They don't want their kids to serve any suspension [for not going] to that course."

If the school board doesn't comply, parents may ask for financial compensation, Côté said.

The ethics class is not a requirement to graduate, but attendance is mandatory for all students except those in Grade 9.

It has stirred controversy among many parents in different parts of Quebec because of its mandate, content and pedagogical approach.

The mandatory course replaces three classes previously taught in Quebec — moral education, Catholic religious and moral instruction, and Protestant moral and religious education.

The curriculum was created by the Quebec Education Ministry to foster harmonious social relations among young Quebecers. It deals with the world's main religions, including Judaism and First Nations spirituality, and explores ethical questions.

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