Teacher assaulted in Quebec classroom; education minister says strategy in the works to address school violence

After a string of violent incidents at Quebec schools this week, including a massive brawl involving more than 100 students on Montreal’s South Shore, the province’s education minister said he is “concerned” by what he sees in school settings.

“Violence has no place in schools. We denounce all acts of violence. We are currently working on a strategy to better prevent and fight against violence and bullying in schools,” Florence Plourde, the press attaché for Education Minster Bernard Drainville, wrote in a brief statement to CTV News on Friday.

The minister announced in March that he was preparing the strategy and is now facing renewed pressure from the opposition to deliver, and to take violence in schools more seriously.

On Friday, Longueuil police were called to disperse a large crowd outside the Antoine-Brossard High School in Brossard, Que. A video on social media showed several students exchanging blows and throwing objects, and at one point, someone could be seen spraying an unknown substance, possibly perfume, into the crowd.

Five minors were injured, and one was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. No arrests have been made, but the police investigation is ongoing.

A day earlier, on Montreal’s North Shore, classes had almost been let out for the day when a 13-year-old student allegedly assaulted her 65-year-old teacher with a chair in the classroom.

The incident happened at École secondaire l’Odyssée-des-Jeunes in Laval. The student could face charges of assault with a weapon.

Laval police said the teacher asked the student to change her behaviour before the girl attacked him. Students intervened and other teachers were eventually able to subdue the student.

The teacher was sent to hospital with minor upper-body injuries.

A union representing teachers says the teacher also had her hair pulled and students had to leave class and ask for help.

The union’s Alain Arsenault is also upset with the school’s principal because he said police were never called.

“Once again, we’re trying to minimize the violence that goes on in the workplace,” he told Noovo Info.

Laval police confirmed to CTV News they were only made aware of the incident hours later.

The Laval school service centre said Friday that the teacher was accompanied to the hospital and that, eventually, school officials met with police.

“The student was under control. That’s important information. She calmed down,” said Yves Michel Volcy, the head of the Laval school service centre, in an interview.

Earlier this week, four students were arrested after a video circulated online showing a minor repeatedly punching another teenager in the head as other students watched.

A screenshot of a video showing a teenager before he is repeatedly punched in the face at a school in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que. (Source: Noovo Info)

The incident happened near the École secondaire du Mont-Bruno, near Longueuil, on Tuesday.

The students implicated in the video have been suspended, according to Drainville, who described the incident as “outrageous.”

The victim suffered broken teeth, possibly a broken jaw and a concussion, but his injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Police arrested four suspects and said they would be increasing patrols at the school.

POLICE CALLED TO WESTERN QUEBEC SCHOOL

Violence is also playing out in other Quebec schools.

The D’Arcy McGee High School in western Quebec issued a statement on its website Friday about two “physical altercations” at the school since September that required police to be called.

“Today, there was a physical altercation that took place off school property and we requested the support of the Gatineau police – this remains an open investigation,” the statement said. “It has come to our attention that these events are being discussed on a Facebook page that is not moderated by anyone at school.”

Gatineau police told CTV News that they were called to the school Friday to respond to a complaint about a threat but said there was no lockdown.

Police spokesperson Patrick Kenney would not divulge the nature of the threat since the investigation is ongoing.

“As a precautionary measure, there was an acute police presence today and we’ll do the same thing next week to make sure the student population and personnel feel safe in their environment,” Kenney said.

OPPOSITION WANTS GOVERNMENT TO ACT

The Quebec Liberal Party’s education critic, Marwah Rizqy, denounced the type of “savage violence” she said she saw this week in Quebec. She said she has been asking the education minister for months to develop a province-wide action plan to address the issue but is waiting for his response.

“I’m glad there’s a directive for cell phones, but I think it’s more urgent to deal with violence around and in schools,” Ms. Rizqy said in an interview on Noovo Info on Thursday.

Quebec Liberal MNA Marwah Rizqy calls on the minister of education during question period Wednesday, February 15, 2023 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Standing up during question period in the national assembly last February, Rizqy drew attention to another violent act — a 16-year-old boy who was assaulted with a hammer at a Montreal high school — when she reported an increase in violence in Quebec schools.

She said at the time that she had collected data that showed in 2022, school service centres reported twice as many violent acts as in 2018-2019, before the pandemic.

She also reported that the province’s workplace health and safety board (CNESST) received about twice as many claims from school staff, she said. In response, Drainville insisted that Quebec schools are safe. 

Rizqy, the MNA for the Montreal district of Saint-Laurent, took to social media on Friday to continue putting pressure on the education minister to act.

“I’ve been challenging the Legault government on this issue for several months now. The data doesn’t lie. Cases of violence are on the rise, and so is their intensity,” she said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

“We can’t learn with fear in our bellies. This must become our national priority. For real. It’s urgent.”

Have you or your child experienced violence in school? Send us a message at [email protected] to speak to us in an interview.

With files from Noovo Info and The Canadian Press

Scroll to Top