Ottawa’s French Catholic school board says the way a local high school’s dress code was enforced this week was unacceptable.
Marc Bertrand, director of education at the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE), said in a letter to families on Saturday that board staff met students and teachers at Beatrice-Desloges High School on Friday after reports that several students, mostly girls, were subject to a dress code control over the length of their shorts.
“School management staff arrived at the school early Friday morning to spend the day there and to meet with several concerned students and staff to shed light on the situation,” the letter said in French.
Bertrand said an investigation found that members of the school board and certain staff members were carrying out the dress code blitz and that an unspecified number of students, most of them women, were called into the hallways.
“Some students were asked to bend their leg back at the knee while standing to check that the shorts they were wearing met the dress code,” Bertrand said.
He said no student was asked to bend over, nor was a student’s clothing measured by a ruler, as described in some versions of events circulating online, but he acknowledged that many of the students felt humiliated and humiliated.
“This dress code verification strategy is not encouraged by CECCE and is not acceptable,” Bertrand wrote. “All students should absolutely be treated with dignity and respect. No student should be subjected to such scrutiny of his or her clothing, much less challenged in front of his or her peers. Unfortunately, the strategy adopted by the school last Thursday does not reflect these values, which are very dear to CECCE.”
Council focuses on police response
Students from Beatrice-Desloges held a strike protest on Friday afternoon. Police arrived during the event and video showed an officer pushing a boy against a cruiser. Police said one person was arrested but released without a ticket or charge.
Bertrand said police had been called to ensure safety as some students had taken to the streets and blocked traffic. At one point, a small group of students from another school board arrived by car, circulating unsafely through the crowd and uncooperative, Bertrand said, prompting police to intervene. None of the students at Beatrice-Desloges were arrested.
The protest ended at 12:45 PM and the students returned to their studies.
“The administration of the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est sincerely regrets this result and apologizes to the students and families disturbed by these events,” said Bertrand. “Follow-ups are underway with all CECCE schools to ensure such a situation does not happen again.”
Bretrand said Superintendent of Education Jason Dupuis would be at school Monday to follow up on any concerned students or their parents.