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Quebec Human Rights Commission rules in favour of student with learning disability against EMSB

Click to play video: 'The EMSB is ordered to pay a young student after discriminating against her' The EMSB is ordered to pay a young student after discriminating against her
WATCH: The Quebec Human Rights Commission has ruled in favour of a complaint made by a student with learning disabilities and her family against the EMSB for discriminating against her. Olivia O'Malley reports – Jan 5, 2022

The Quebec Human Rights Commission ruled in favour of 11-year-old student Simone Kuhn with a learning disability against her former school board, the English Montreal School Board.

In the ruling, issued in Dec. 20, 2021, the commission found the student was the victim of discrimination by the EMSB. The school board has been ordered to pay the family $20,000 in moral damages.

“I think that the English Montreal School Board is letting down kids with disabilities,” said Simone’s father, Samuel Kuhn.

The Saint-Henri family filed the lawsuit against the school board more than three years ago, in July 2018, with the help of The Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.

Read more: Family of girl with special needs files lawsuit against English Montreal School Board

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The case dates back to 2016 when Simone attended French immersion kindergarten at Roslyn Elementary.

A year later, Simone was struggling. Her parents requested the school board assess their daughter to develop appropriate support.

“They were telling us to go private and go private. We’re low income. We couldn’t afford these assessments,” said Kuhn.

Instead of assessing her, Kuhn says the EMSB suggested a transfer to an English program at Hampstead elementary. But learning a second language was a priority, so he moved Simone to the French school system.

“Ultimately, she got an assessment and more than one. And she was put into a specialized school, French school, where she’s thriving,” said Kuhn.

Read more: Parents of autistic children in Quebec struggle for access to health services

“My friends are really great,” said Simone.

CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi believes Simone is not the only student to experience discrimination in education.

“We encourage parents to come forward because we know that in some schools there are many parents in the same situation, many of whom are parents and children of colour,” he said.

In a statement the, EMSB says it is surprised and disappointed by the decision, writing it will take the necessary time to properly review the ruling with legal council.

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The school board has until Jan. 28, 2022 to reply. If not, the case will go to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal.

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