Turned on board at the dawn of the new school year

Young people enrolled in the basketball program of a Montreal school have received a few days before the start of the new school year the “heartbreaking” news that they will not be able to attend it in the end, when this sport is at the center of their lives and that their uniform had already been purchased.

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“If we had been told a month ago, it would be different. But five days before the start of the school year… That’s what is absurd, ”says Donald Garcia Nycklass.

His son Sean Garcia Nycklass, 12, was about to start high school at Lucien-Pagé school, located in Villeray and Parc-Extension.

Like him, three other young people who do not live on school grounds were enrolled in the school’s basketball program. Due to overcrowding, they learned this week that this would not be possible. They must now return to enroll in their neighborhood school.

“I’m angry,” admits young Sean on the phone.

Sean Garcia Nycklass

“The registrations of the last few days have meant that we are at the maximum of our reception capacity,” explains Alain Perron of the Center de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM).

It’s the law

“The law on public instruction is clear […] We must serve the students in our territory before accepting students from other CSSs. »

When they registered their child, the parents interviewed were aware of the rules and of the risk of being supplanted at the last minute because of their “extraterritorial” character.

Behind the scenes, they had been told that it was unlikely.

For Alder Pierre, physical education teacher and head of the basketball program, this policy is too often applied in an “inhumane” way.

Alder Pierre, responsible for the basketball program.

Photo Chantal Poirier

Alder Pierre, responsible for the basketball program.

According to the information that reached him, there would be only a handful of pupils in excess in first secondary. “I understand that this is the rule, but I think the rule needs to be revised,” believes Mr. Pierre.

“We treat students like numbers,” sighs Salahdine Badrelama.

“Changed his life”

Her daughter Sara, 12, is already 1.71m tall. In elementary school, she began to develop complexes because of her tall height…until she started playing basketball.

“It really changed his life. I don’t see the same Sara anymore. She gained self-confidence […] She no longer sees her size as a disadvantage, but as an advantage, ”says Mr. Badrelama.

The effect was impressive on his school discipline. She had practiced taking public transport to get from Laval to the Lucien-Pagé school, he adds. “There, everything collapsed,” says the man who now fears for his daughter’s motivation and perseverance.

The teacher Alder Pierre is also trying to convince the Ministry of Education to grant an exemption from the admission rules for his basketball program, which generally welcomes young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, while training top athletes. level, he explains.

The ministry confirms having received the letter from Mr. Pierre and is in the process of analyzing it.

“It’s a painful dilemma” which opposes the collective good to the individual good, analyzes Sylvain Martel, spokesperson for the Regroupement des Comités de Parents Autonomes du Québec.

“But when it falls on our child, it creates the effect of a bomb. »


The fact of being able to choose your school is in a way a privilege, and not a right, recalls Mr. Martel. This is why students can be the subject of a “compulsory transfer” in the event of overcrowding, even when they live in the neighborhood of their school.

With such a short delay, the parents’ possibilities of recourse are very low, believes Mr. Martel.

“On a human level, if we accept these students, it is a student from Villeray who will not go to his neighborhood school […] If we turn it over on the other side, you could write an article as well”, illustrates Alain Perron of the CSSDM.

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