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International student forced to leave Montreal school because of Bill 96

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A 16-year-old student is getting kicked out of her school, not because of anything she did wrong, but because of Quebec's language law, Bill 96.

She was granted permission to study in English, but under the new legislation, she's been told she's lost that right.

Julie, a pseudonym CTV News is using to protect her identity because she fears repercussions for speaking out, is a Chinese national who's been in Montreal for four years on a study permit.

But with just a few days until the start of her graduating year, the Quebec government has told her she can't go back to the school she loves.

"I mean, it's totally ruined my dreams about my Grade 11 year," she said.

Since Grade 9, Julie has been at ECS, an English private school in Westmount, which receives some government funding and therefore has to follow language laws.

Julie was allowed to attend ECS because she obtained a study certificate and a temporary English eligibility certificate. But this week, she received a letter from the Ministry of Education saying she's no longer eligible for English schooling.

The problem is her study certificate has to be renewed annually, which was never a problem before. However, the letter points out that under Bill 96, the rule for English eligibility certificates has changed.

While they can still be granted to temporary students for up to three years, they can't be renewed. Julie needs hers renewed every time she renews her study permit, which she considers an "overzealous" requirement.

The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) says it's messy bureaucracy that's affecting dozens of students. 

"It's clear to me the objective was to limit those temporary certificates to three years. An objective we don't share, an objective we think is bad," said Russell Copeman, the association's executive director.

"Now, because of the wording, you're seeing civil servants in the department of education going, 'You know something, it's not even three years; it can be one year because it's not renewable even after a year,' and we think that's wrong."

Julie is devastated.

"The day before I got my letter, I was talking to my friends about partying after school and gift exchange and stuff like that, but then my mom came into my room and said I cannot go to school anymore," she said.

At ECS, Julie heads the debate club, the mathletics club, and the yearbook and is also part of the student government.

Margaret Dorrance, the head of the school, says she's heartbroken at the prospect of losing such a bright student. She said the staff is helping the family appeal the decision, but the school refused to get involved in the politics of the situation.

"We're doing what we can as a school, but we are not making a stance against the government or the law on this," said

Education Minister Bernard Drainville's office did not respond to a request from CTV News by publication time.

Julie is now awaiting a decision on her appeal, but she's been told that could take a month or even longer.

With school starting in just a matter of days, Julie said she has no choice but to start looking for a new school.

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