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French Catholic school board apologizes for dress code crackdown at Orléans high school

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The crackdown on the dress code displayed by administrators at a French Catholic high school in Orleans on Thursday ‘is not acceptable’, according to the council’s director of education, who apologized for the dress blitz that targeted several girls.

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Marc Bertrand released a public statement on Saturday, a day after hundreds of students demonstrated outside Béatrice-Desloges high school condemning the inspections.

“All students should absolutely be treated with dignity and respect,” Bertrand said in the statement. “No student should be subjected to such control of their clothing and even less be challenged in front of their peers. The strategy employed by the school last Thursday unfortunately does not reflect these values ​​dear to the CECCE (Council of Catholic Schools of the Centre-East).

Bertrand confirmed much of what the students reported: staff took students, mostly girls, down the hall to check the length of their shorts. Some students were asked to bend the knee to check if their shorts met the school’s dress code, which states that shorts and skirts must reach at least to mid-thigh.

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No students were asked to bend over and no shorts measurements were taken with a ruler, Bertrand’s statement said.

The protesting students described their embarrassment at being brought into the hall for a clothing inspection.

Bertrand said many students felt degraded and humiliated.

There was another layer of controversy when the Ottawa police showed up. Officers arrested a boy, who they believe had not attended school, for trespassing and he was later released without charge.

According to Bertrand, the police were at the demonstration for public safety.

“A lot of students dispersed to the adjacent street where vehicles were driving where the traffic was stopped,” Bertrand said. “The police then arrived on the scene to ensure the safety of the students.”

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A small group of students who do not attend a French Catholic board school showed up at the protest, Bertrand said. Police intervened when they refused to cooperate, he said.

No student of Béatrice-Desloges has been charged, said Bertrand.

According to Bertrand, the students “serenely returned to school” after Superintendent of Education Jason Dupuis spoke to them at 12:45 p.m.

Dupuis will be back at school on Monday if students want to share their concerns.

“The management of the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est is sincerely sorry for this outcome and would like to apologize to the students and families who have been disturbed by these events,” Bertrand said in his press release. “Follow-ups are underway with all CECCE schools to ensure that such a situation does not happen again.

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The dress code crackdown has drawn scorn from local politicians, who have addressed it on social media.

Com. Catherine Kitts, whose Cumberland neighborhood includes the high school, questioned the police intervention and added: “The school’s actions against young women who have been aggressively targeted for dress code violations also appear extremely inappropriate”.

Stephen Blais, the incumbent Liberal candidate from Orléans in the Ontario election, said, “Women should never be judged for what they wear.

The area’s Francophone Catholic school counselor, Dan Boudria, said, “Our students must be treated with dignity and respect. Such a situation should never happen again. »

Asked about the school controversy during his stop at the Tulip Festival on Saturday, Mayor Jim Watson said it was “very distressing” for students and their families.

“I don’t have all the facts and I’m not sure (of) a call for a police presence, but that’s the call for the school board and the police to make,” Watson said.

“I hope they will reach an amicable solution so that this does not escalate and ruin the good relationship that teachers and students should have with each other.”

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