10/03/2014 06:20 EDT | Updated 12/03/2014 05:59 EST

Halton school board 'segragating' kids on the bus, parent claims

A Georgetown, Ont., parent is accusing the Halton District School Board of “segregation” on his son’s school bus.

Matthew Welford said that starting next week, his seven-year-old son, Thomas, will no longer be allowed to sit with his friend on their way to school.

Thomas attends George Kennedy Public School, while his friend goes to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Elementary School, but they ride the same bus every day and also hang out together at their stop before the ride.

The Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board agreed that students en route to public schools will sit in the front of the buses, while Catholic students will sit in the back. 

Parents were informed of the new policy in a letter sent home with their kids last week.

“It reminded me of segregation – it is segregation. It’s a shame,” said Welford.

While both school boards declined an interview with CBC News, it did say both schools agreed to separate the students to address a number of ongoing behavioural problems such as inappropriate language and out-of-control noise levels.

The policy will be applied to all four of the buses that transport students to the two schools.

But Welford said it’s a difficult change to explain to his son, and that he doesn’t feel “segregation” is the way to address behavioural issues.

“If there’s a problem on the bus, which I’m sure there is, than those problems have to be resolved by the individuals,” he said.

“Separating out two schools cannot be the right way to approach this problem.”

His son, Thomas, is equally unhappy with the decision, and said he doesn't understand why he can't sit with his friend.

"We're allowed to have sleepovers and go places with St. Francis kids, but we're not allowed to sit with them on the bus," he said.