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French Catholic school board apologizes for dress code crackdown at Orleans 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 director of education, who apologized for the dress blitz that targeted several girls.

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Marc Bertrand released a public statement Saturday, a day after hundreds of students demonstrated outside Batrice-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 dress 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 should come down to at least mid-thigh.

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No students were asked to bend over and no shorts measurements were taken with a ruler, Bertrands 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.

Students at Batrice-Desloges Catholic Secondary School demonstrate on Friday, May 13, 2022, in response to a dress code blitz the day before.
Students at Batrice-Desloges Catholic Secondary School demonstrate on Friday, May 13, 2022, in response to a dress code blitz the day before. Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

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.

Many students dispersed to the adjacent street where vehicles were traveling where 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 she refused to cooperate, he said.

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

According to Bertrand, the students calmly 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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Sophie Labbée, 18, was among the students who staged a protest in front of Béatrice-Desloges high school on Friday.
Sophie Labbée, 18, was among the students who staged a protest in front of Béatrice-Desloges high school on Friday. Photo by Jacquie Miller /Postmedia

Grade 12 student Sophie Labbe said Saturday she was grateful the school board had admitted what happened on Thursday was untrue.

I think we all appreciate the apologies because I think this is the first time the school board has acknowledged that they did something wrong and that’s not a response that protects itself instead of the students, Labbe said. I think we need to find out and see how legit it is, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Grade 11 student Danika Verdon said she was slightly surprised to see an apology from the school board. Students still want to see the consequences for teachers involved in dress code inspections, Verdon said.

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 action against young women who have been aggressively targeted for dress code violations also seems extremely inappropriate.

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Stephen Blais, the incumbent Liberal candidate from Orleans 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 find an amicable solution so that this situation does not escalate and ruin the good relations that teachers and students should have between them.

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