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Félix-Leclerc school won't allow boy with autism to attend graduation

05/07/2015 09:17 EDT | Updated 05/07/2016 05:59 EDT
A Senneville mother is fighting for her autistic son's right to attend his diploma ceremony at Felix-Leclerc school in Pointe-Claire, Que.

Though Maryse Savoie's 17-year-old son, Trevor, isn't officially graduating with an academic diploma, he has spent four years at the high school and has met the objectives of his specialized program.

He's starting a new program that's career oriented next year.

Savoie said she thought it would be a no-brainer for the school to let her son attend the graduation ceremony, and that Trevor has been interested since watching his sister's ceremony.

"It's an important milestone for students when they finish," said Savoie. "It's kind of a shock for us, and a big disappointment."

When she approached her son's teacher in February to discuss how Trevor could celebrate finishing at Félix-Leclerc, the teacher was supportive of the idea of Trevor attending graduation. However, the administration said weeks later that he was not invited because he wasn't in the academic high school program.

"To me, I have trouble understanding the reasoning," said Savoie.

Alternative suggested

Instead, school officials offered to commemorate his time at Félix-Leclerc by acknowledging it at a special school event called the méritas Gala. Trevor is one of three students not invited to the graduation; administration suggested all three of them could be recognized at the méritas Gala.

That's not an acceptable compromise to Savoie.

"I'm thankful he was invited to the méritas, but all of the other students don't have a choice between the two, so why should we?"

Savoie said she's been fighting for Trevor's inclusion for his entire life. The struggle to involve him in his own graduation is "the cherry on the sundae," she said.

"I think they can be an inspiration for others. It's an opportunity missed by the schools to give an example to other students. It's important to include people who are different."

Neither the school board nor the school has been available for comment.

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