Quebec education minister asks for investigation into sexual misconduct in schools

On Tuesday, Quebec’s education minister, Bernard Drainville, announced the launch of a “general” investigation into sexual misconduct in schools following multiple denunciations and allegations of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior at the primary and secondary school level.

Drainville told the National Assembly he had asked officials to shed light on “any situation involving behavior that could reasonably cause students to fear for their physical or psychological safety, including citations brought to the Education Ministry’s attention.”

The minister was responding to a question from Québec Solidaire’s Ruba Ghazal about alleged sexual assaults of students at Massey-Vanier High School, in Cowansville.

The students and their parents complained to the school’s administration and the school board, “but nothing has been done to really protect them,” said Ghazal, who is Québec Solidaire’s education critic.

Drainville confirmed signing a letter authorizing the investigation — which could also include the situation in Cowansville — just before entering the legislature.

A woman speaks in front of a microphone.
Québec Solidaire’s education critic, Ruba Ghazal, wants stronger legislation to protect students from sexual misconduct. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

Ghazal called for a law — akin to legislation for CEGEPs and universities — to strengthen measures preventing sexual violence.

“It would even be complementary to the work of Quebec’s student ombudsman, whom I met recently. He told me that having a legal framework could even assist him in his work. It’s complementary, not contradictory,” said Ghazal.

In his response, Drainville said the regional student ombudsmen would take office next September and would be able to “make dealing with cases of sexual violence in schools a priority.”

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