EXCLUSIVE: UPAC questions to EMSB staff hint at details of investigation
Published Tuesday, December 13, 2016 6:07PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 14, 2016 10:51AM EST
UPAC investigators have begun questioning staff at the international program of the English Montreal School Board.
The EMSB, along with the Lester B. Pearson School Board, is being investigated by the province's anti-corruption squad and being audited due to 'irregularities.'
CTV has learned that two investigators met with a staff member of the board's international vocational school a few weeks ago and interviewed them for several hours.
They wanted to know how many students were taking part in the program, what kind of courses they were taking, and what kind of hours they were being asked to do to pass their courses. Investigators also wanted to know where students were doing internships and who was supervising them.
The staffer told the investigators that many of the students are from China and have little to no English skills.
The person also told UPAC investigators that the teachers were told in no uncertain terms not to fail anybody. The program brings in revenue to the board.
EMSB spokesperson Mike Cohen said the board was not aware that anyone had already been interviewed.
He added that it's true that many of the students arrive here with little English, but that they have been pre-screened for basic literacy skills and are provided tutors, use online English-language courses and tools like Google Translate.
Cohen said the students are very motivated, which is why so many pass.
The person interviewed also told UPAC that many teachers find it difficult to teach the course material with students who don't speak and understand English well.
Cohen said they haven't heard of any substantial complaints from teachers.
The news comes as the EMSB is dealing with some bad press in South Korea, where students complained about poor treatment they received here in Montreal. The school said it is "emphatically distancing" itself from the accounts.
The EMSB said it is disturbed by these accounts, but has nothing to do with the students’ experience – except that the agent used their name to deceive them. It has cut ties with the agent.