“The school of last chance” in danger

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
They are 75 students to attend the Center for academic integration, which attempts to equip them so that they can integrate back into an educational path regular.

It is a little school of the last chance. The school welcomes students with the most ” poqués “, who have what is called “behavior disorders” as large as their distress. This school is under threat of closure.


This school is the integration Center school of Montreal (CIS). It is housed in four decades in a building belonging to the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM). But here it is : the CSDM requires the building to house the students of the schools in the area that are overflowing. She has advised the CIS that the lease could end at the end of the school year, in June 2018.


“There was nowhere to go, but that can’t be true that one farm. It does not close a school, ” says Ysabelle Chouinard, director of the CIS, met in his school of 6th avenue, in the neighbourhood of Rosemont.


The old three-storey building looks like the 75 students, aged 8 to 18 years : flayed alive. The walls are slashed. The lockers with dents. The anger and distress to leave a trace here — and not only on the faces of these children forced to grow up before the age.


The anger and the distress mixed in with a kind of enchantment. A little miracle that happens every day. Force efforts, dedication and love, the 17 staff members, all remedial teachers or special educators, manage to escape, and a good portion of these children are rejected by the system.


Yes, these students have been rejected : expelled from their class, their school, and their school board. Expelled from their family, also, for several of them placed in foster families.


Seven school boards in the greater montreal region, including the CSDM, pay to send their students to “problems” at the Center of school integration. The CIS is a private non-profit.


“These are students that are rendered at the end of the regular system. They have exceeded all limits. The more it goes, the more students we receive have significantly exceeded many of the limits, ” says Ysabelle Chouinard, who has taught twenty years in the CIS prior to becoming ceo three years ago.


An ocean of trouble


We meet Océane, age 11, in the office of the social worker of the school. A ball of energy that explodes from time to time. “When I fart in a crisis, I get angry and I get on the furniture, she said. I also ran away when I was 9 years old. I am saved and I am hidden somewhere, ‘” she says.


Océane, his brother and his sister were placed in foster care. “Oceane has made a lot of progress. She has to return home to his mother, who is taken in hand and makes good decisions. She has not had it easy, ” said Marie-Claude Simard, a social worker for 14 years here.


“I am lucky to have a job like that,” she adds. Young people need to be framed. They need to feel loved, accepted, welcomed. It is necessary to meet their needs, go little by little. Welcome also the parents, to appease the parents. They also have injuries not healed. “


Parents and students often share the same wounds-named disorder opposition disorder, attachment, spontaneous seizures, addiction, hyperactivity, generalized anxiety. These “disorders” can lead to furniture thrown, kicks, swear words, spitting, self-injury, ideas (or actions) of suicide…


Richard, a colossus of 16 years, tells us his story. Calmly. With a kind of maturity. His father, a member of the armed Forces, left home when Richard was 2 years old. His mother raised him alone, working by day as an educator in child care and night as a janitor. His father promised to return to the house, and then did not return…


“When I arrived here, in elementary school, I was angry. I used to handle large. I was fighting. I had no respect for the teachers and stakeholders. I have changed. I realized that I should respect the world. Respect my mother too. It has always helped me. “


He wants to finish his studies and enter in the canadian navy, like his father.


The luxury of time


Here we are, already at noon. Most of the teachers eat in the classroom with their students. A teacher plays ball with young in the corridor. The union signed an agreement that allows teachers to have an irregular schedule — early morning, after school hours and the midday. The CIS grants to children which is often lacking in other schools of the time.


A small ferret, white cavorts from one child to another in the class of Mrs. Roxanne — nicknamed “Mrs.” Projects. “It soothes. If they are in crisis, they stick together on the ferret and calm down immediately, ” she said.


The director, Ysabelle Chouinard, dines with a student in his office. Maïté, 10 years ago, knit a scarf placotant. “I love it, she [the director]. It is quiet here, it is. I can knit in peace, ” she said.


“Before, I went to a school for drug addicts. My mother told me. They made me a star, me pognaient the arm from behind and pushed me to the ground. “Maïté looks at the ground to show the making of the star that made him so bad.


It is a small, fast, Maïté. She has the keen eye. The mind agile. “A condition [of behavior] can happen for all sorts of reasons,” said Ysabelle Chouinard. Nobody chooses that to happen. We must find ways to help the children. It is their second chance, maybe the last one in some cases. “


Decision imminent


The CIS aims to put students on the right path so that they can return to regular classes. But the school’s closure is indeed possible. “I can not hide that it is a strategic place. We have very, very great needs in the neighborhood. It would be necessary that they [the leaders of the CIS] are seeking other support. You can’t be the only partner. Our needs are so great, ” said Catherine Harel Bourdon, president of the CSDM.


The decision will be taken at the meeting of the board of commissioners on 20 December, according to it. As if that wasn’t enough, the building needs work $ 10.8 million. The roof flows. There is asbestos in the walls. You need to redo the exterior siding.


What would happen to the 75 students in case of closure ? “We have a multitude of services from us for students with special needs “, said the president.


The director of the CIS, it, clings to the hope that a donor will enable the school to relocate. Or stay in the 6th avenue. “We can’t abandon our students. I can’t accept that. “

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