Quebec education minister pledges more resources for autistic students
Quebec’s education minister pledged to improve the resources for special needs students during a Monday visit to Montreal’s École de l’Étincelle, which recently made headlines after an autistic student in crisis was confined to a closet.
“What I saw today really got to me,” Jean-François Roberge told reporters. “This has been neglected and it’s got to stop.”
The minister said he was somewhat relieved by the fact that in the short term, renovations will be taking place at the school, which offers services to autistic students, and that the number of students assigned to it will be reduced in time for the new school year.
But Roberge acknowledged that the school is not equipped to serve the students assigned to it and that short term fixes won’t be enough.
“It’s clear we have to deal with the building,” he said. “It’s clear there are too many students in this space and its really complicating the work of the teachers and professionals.
“By reducing the number of students and improving the infrastructure here we’ll have a site that can be used. But I think that in the medium term it will take a school that is completely refurbished or a new school more adapted to the needs the students and more adapted to the needs of the teachers and professionals who work here.”
Roberge went further, promising more resources to school boards in the regions that deal with autistic students.
In many cases, parents are obliged to send their children to school in Montreal because those resources are lacking in their own area.
“I’m telling school boards: make your requests, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the openness of the Quebec government. Ask us for renovations, expansions, the construction of schools adapted to the needs of students. The government is here for vulnerable students.
“The resources will be there. We will invest in our youth and will invest to recognize the work of professionals.”