UPDATE: Student granted Bill 101 exemption, will finish Grade 11 at Royal West
A Grade 11 student at Montreal's Royal West Academy who just got permanent residency status in Canada and who had been told he'd have to finish his education in French got some good news on Thursday.
The English Montreal School Board says the Quebec government has told 16-year-old Alois Orozco that he'd be able to finish his education in English after all.
Over the summer, Orozco was told that because he's now a permanent resident, an exemption from Bill 101's notoriously stringent schooling rules granted him when his family arrived in Quebec no longer applied, and that he'd be taken out of Royal West and sent across town to a French school.
This week, officials at Royal West told him they could only hold his place at the school until Sept. 20.
Alois Orozco's family arrived in Canada from Ecuador in 2010. His mother, Rebeca Estrada, came on a work and study permit, to do a PhD, and then post-doctoral studies — which granted her the right to send her children to the schools of her choice.
"We're very pleased that very quickly, Alois, the young student who was being prevented from going to school this year at Royal West Academy has been given a derogation from the Quebec government, and he will be allowed to go to school on Friday," said the English Montreal School Board's Mike Cohen.
Cohen says NDG MNA and minister responsible for anglos, Kathleen Weil, was the one that phoned the family to tell them the good news Thursday afternoon.
The teenager's story was first broken by the Montreal Gazette Thursday morning, and spread quickly. Speaking with CJAD 800 Thursday morning, Orozco says he thought the situation was bizarre.
"It seems kind of weird that now that I've become Canadian, which is a great thing, I can't study where I want to study," the teen said. "Sometimes exceptions need to be made, and I feel like an exception needs to be made to that bill."
Orozco, who's been getting top marks in math and science at Royal West, is hoping to graduate with distinction and go on to Dawson College, and then medical school at McGill University. His ultimate goal is to become a neurosurgeon.
Until Thursday afternoon, however, he faced the prospect of being cut off from his friends at Royal West and being forced to study across town at a school in French, which is his third language.