High school overcrowding: turn around a few days before the start of the school year

Young people enrolled in a Montreal school basketball program received heartbreaking news a few days before the school year began that they would eventually be unable to attend, when the sport is at the center of their lives and their uniforms have already been purchased.

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“If we had been told a month ago, it would have been different. But five days before the school year started…that’s ridiculous,” says Donald Garcia-Niklas.

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

Like him, three other young men who do not live in schoolyards are enrolled in the school’s basketball program. Due to overcrowding, they learned this week that this would not be possible. They must now go back to enroll in the neighborhood school.

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

Shawn Garcia Niklas

“Recordings in the past few days have ensured that we are at our maximum reception capacity,” explains Alain Peron of the scolaire de Montréal Service Center (CSSDM).

it’s the law

The public education law is clear […] We must serve students in our area before accepting students from other CSSs.”

When they registered their child, the parents interviewed were aware of the rules and the risk of last-minute trauma due to their ‘extraterritorial’ nature.

Behind the scenes, they were told that was unlikely.

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

Alder Beer Basketball Program Officer.

Chantal Poirier’s photo

Alder Beer Basketball Program Officer.

According to the information he had, there would only be a few surplus disciples in the first grade of secondary school. “I understand that this is the rule, but I think the rule must be revised,” believes Mr. Pierre.

“We treat students like numbers,” Salahuddin Badrilama sighs.

“changed his life”

Her daughter Sarah, 12, is 1.71 meters tall. In primary school, she began to develop complexes due to her long height… until she started playing basketball.

“It really changed his life. I don’t see Sarah’s soul anymore. I gained self-confidence […] You no longer see its size as a disadvantage, but as an advantage,” says Mr. Padrilama.

The effect was impressive on the discipline of his school. He adds that she had been trained to use public transportation to get from Laval to the Lucien Paget School. “There it all fell apart,” says the man, who now fears for his daughter’s impulses and perseverance.

Teacher Alder Beyer is also trying to persuade 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 that it has received the letter from Mr. Pierre and is in the process of analyzing it.

“It’s a painful dilemma” opposing the collective good over the individual good, analyzes Sylvain Martel, spokesperson for the Regroupement des Commissions of Independent Parents in Quebec.

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


Mr. Martell remembers the fact that being able to choose your school is a privilege in some way, not a right. That’s why students can be subject to “compulsory relocation” in case of overcrowding, even when they live in their school district.

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

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

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