MONTREAL, MARCH 9, 2009- The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) was extremely pleased to learn today that Kyle Wozniak, a Grade 5 student at Willingdon Elementary School, has been granted English admissibility. Just over a month ago a Quebec government administrative tribunal ruled that 11 year old Kyle was not eligible to attend English school, citing a lack of proof that his parents received the "major part" of primary education in English in Canada.
While Kyle’s mother, Nina Wozniak, went to French school his biological father attended English schools in Western Canada. But because the parents have been estranged since Kyle was an infant, the father would not provide an affidavit to prove the son’s eligibility. The EMSB Registration Division tried to obtain the information on its own. However, in one case there were no records at a British Columbia school because of a fire in the 1970s while a school in Stony Plain, Alta., destroys records once a former student reaches age 30.
The EMSB refused to remove Kyle from Willingdon and instead pursued the boy’s grandmother and the father. On February 17 the grandmother send an affidavit to the EMSB, which was transmitted to the Ministry. The biological father soon followed suit. Today, an official ruling in Kyle’s favor was sent to the EMSB. “We are elated,” stated EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini. “I really must give full credit to the dogged determination of our Registration Division. Sadly we have so many children who cannot get their English eligibility each year. We advocate for them as best as possible. But in this case we saw a real wrong and we could not sit by or see this young man taken out of a school he was comfortable in. The issue was pursued and we have a happy ending.
“It is unfortunate that we have to deal with these type of problems related to Quebec’s language laws. Kyle’s mother is remarried to a man who has English eligibility. His three younger siblings from that marriage are eligible and in past years that would have been good enough to make him eligible as well. But it seems Bill 101 has been further tightened and that is regrettable. As things are, the EMSB is losing upwards of 400 students a year since the introduction in 2004 of Bill 104. This law amended Bill 101 to preclude students with a year of English private school instruction from being eligible to attend an English public school.”
The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) worked actively with EMSB to repair the file, undertaking discussions directly with one
Minister, two Ministerial chiefs of Staff and numerous bureaucrats. QESBA will be working with key boards’ registration staffs to prepare for a meeting with the MELS bureaucracy on the continuing barriers in the eligibility process.