MONTREAL -- School commissioners stripped of their positions following the gag order adoption of Bill 40 on the night of Friday to Saturday fear that the education reform will have serious consequences for certain students with learning difficulties.

For example, the former president of the Commission scolaire du Val-des-Cerfs, Paul Sarrazin, believes that the controversial new law opens the door to a "two-tier" school system.

"We relied on deprivation indices that allowed us to understand in which establishments we had to offer more services. So that a small school with few means has the same chances of success and offers the same services as a better-off school. Today, it is clear that there will be two-tier schools," said Sarrazin during an interview with The Canadian Press.

Until the adoption of the bill, Sarrazin was one of the approximately 700 school officials in Quebec.

The new law transforms school boards into service centres and replaces the boards of commissioners with boards of directors which will be made up of parents, employees and people from the community.

The former president of the Val-des-Cerfs school board fears that these councils may be "engulfed" by people who will not necessarily represent the interests of the population.

"Everyone risks pulling the blanket to their side," said Sarrazin, for whom the elected school commissioners played "the role of arbiter" to redistribute services.

His fears are shared by Alain Fortier, the president of the Federation of Quebec School Boards (FCSQ) and president of the Commission scolaire des Découvreurs in the Quebec City region.

"The strength of the commissioners was to be able to make a judgment in the best interest and not to represent corporate interests," said Fortier, adding that he believed that the fairness of services in schools is now at risk.

"For example, if you have a new school principal who is having trouble fitting in next to a school or the principal has 20 years of experience, you will find that the strings will be easier to pull by the experienced one than by the novice," he said.


The Federation of Quebec School Boards, which brings together the vast majority of Quebec's French-language school boards, released a news release Friday before the law was passed to announce that it intended to "go to court to stay" the implementation of the new law.

The Fédération autonome de l'enseignement (FAE) also said Friday that it will go after all possible remedies to invalidate the law.

English-language school boards intend to imitate them.