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petition to oppose any suspension of hs students

Students Sign Petition to School Boards to Stop Any Suspensions of High
School Students

We are posting below the text of the petition to the Ottawa-Carleton
Catholic School Board and Ottawa-Carleton District School Board which is
being signed by hundreds of students in the Ottawa area following the
very successful Access 2000 Day of Action organized by the Canadian
Federation of Students (CFS) and others in Ottawa on February 2. The
petition was presented by the organisers of the high school students to
the CFS and some 200 students at an after-rally social event and was
endorsed by them. The aim of the petition is to get any suspensions of
high school students which were imposed as a result of their
participation in the Day of Action rescinded.

The Facts

Hundreds of Ottawa high school students joined the Access 2000 Day of
Action organized by the Canadian Federation of Students on February 2.
The CFS and high school student organizers had taken every measure to
not only inform the high school students about the Day of Action but
also ensure that every precaution was taken to ensure the safe
participation of any high school student who decided to join the Day of
Action. This included sending OC Transpo chartered buses to the schools
to pick up the high school students. It also included high school organizers
meeting with representatives of the school boards to explain to them
what was planned and permit them to have their input to make sure
everything was done in an orderly fashion. These School Board
representatives did not even show up for the meeting. Finally, leaflets
and instruction bulletins were distributed at all the high schools for
three weeks prior to the event. All of them had the contact numbers for
the organizers of the event and spelled out the arrangements which were
in place to safely transport the students to the rally.

In other words, principals and other officials had plenty of time to get
in touch with the organizers to inform themselves of the activities,
inform themselves of the arrangements and make sure that any students
from their school who wanted to attend could do so in an orderly manner.
But they did not.

Then, on the day of Access 2000, some school principals mobilized
teachers and other school personnel to block school exists, sequester
the students in the schools, including even those who just wanted to go
outside for normal breaks. They stood outside taking down the names of
	students who walked out before they could be stopped and in spite of them
and then comes the issue of suspensions. One of the arguments one 
principal advanced, if it can be called an argument, was that it is his duty
to ensure the safety of the students; parents entrust them to be at school 
and furthermore, a principal said, grade nine students cannot make up 
their own minds.

In other words, the entire matter of the students' right to conscience
and their right to participate in political activities which serve their
interests is reduced to a jurisdictional matter: students are supposed
to be in school and the administration is responsible for them; a safety
matter: high school students can't take care of themselves; and a law
and order matter: anyone who goes against the rules deserves to be
suspended. By making this entire affair a jurisdictional and law and
order matter, what is covered up is that all these norms, rules and
regulations are being quoted to deny the right of the students to their
conscience and to be political in a manner they see fit. They are used
to criminalize the students who are turned into a behavioral problem and
in this way deny the justice of their cause. For instance, none of these
arguments were used when the federal Liberals emptied Ottawa high
schools to go to Montreal for the so-called Unity Rally at the time of
the Quebec referendum and that was Montreal - an all-day trip - not
downtown Ottawa.

Clearly, what is at issue here is the power of principals, school
administrations and school boards to use their positions and quote rules
and regulations to impose specific values and opinions on the high
school students. Participating in actions to defend their right to
education is not one of them.

The conclusion is that no one should get confused that the motivation
in denying students their right to participate is motivated by safety
concerns or that it is a behavioral problem. Nothing stopped these
principals from making necessary arrangements to ensure the safety of
the students. They knew about this activity well in advance, besides
which, the high school student organizers and the CFS had taken every
precaution. OC Transpo buses are safe and OC Transpo drivers were
performing their duty for which they were hired. They went right to
the school to pick up the students and deliver them right at the rally.
 Another issue is why some teachers allow themselves to be mobilized into
this desperate attempt to hold the students back. It does not behoove
them to act as policemen. High school students have time and time again
supported them when they raised and continue to raise their demands for
wages and working conditions commensurate with the job they perform.
Their demands objectively defend the right of the people to public
education and defend society's interests. They coincide with the right
of the students to public education. In other words, all school
personnel, parents and students are served by opposing the anti-social
offensive which is destroying the education system.

No one should turn this issue into a law and order matter. They must
defend the right of the students to their conscience and the right of
the students to be political.

Rescind any suspensions of high school students who walked out and
participated in Access 2000!

Uphold the rights of the people to be political!

The Petition

Petition to Ottawa-Carleton School Board and Ottawa-Carleton District
School Board

We, the undersigned, draw the attention of the above mention school
boards to the following:

THAT on Wednesday February 2, ACCESS 2000 Day in Ottawa, students at
Nepean High School and Notre Dame High were stopped from participating
in the student strike organized by the Canadian Federation of Students
and other student organizations.

THAT the principals and some teachers blocked the exits of the schools;
made announcements over the intercom and in homeroom that prevented and
effectively intimidated students from walking-out.

THAT students were threatened with suspension.

THAT youth are the future and education, both public and post-secondary,
is of utmost concern to them.

THAT $7 billion has been cut from post-secondary education, the OAC year
has been eliminated and many students do not have access to the
equipment they need.

THAT youth have the right to organize and participate in political

THAT youth have a right to conscience.

THEREFORE your petitioners call upon you to:

* Investigate why high school students were stopped from leaving school,
detained and intimidated from participating in the ACCESS 2000 events
which is a violation of their right to organize, right to conscience and
freedom of speech.

* Take measures to eliminate this abuse of power and rules and
regulations which infringe on the rights of the high school students.

* Rescind any suspensions of high school students who walked-out and
participated in ACCESS 2000.

* Uphold the rights of the people to be political.



Print out and distribute the petition! Petitions should be returned to
Youth Organizing Project, 403-396 Cooper Street, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2H7
or to Canadian Federation of Students, Fifth Floor, 170 Metcalfe Street,
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1P3 or email signed petition to <yop@magma.ca>.

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