Fredericton school board responds to allegations leveled against Syrian students
School officials in Fredericton are trying to clear up reports that Syrian students have been disruptive while attending Fredericton High School.
Reports state that 22-year-old Syrians have been attending class with teenage girls at FHS, while being aggressive toward other students.
"The frustration that we've experienced throughout the year doesn't come close to the frustration we've experienced in the past week with the sensationalization and exaggeration of events being described at Fredericton High," says David McTimoney, superintendent of Anglophone West School District.
McTimoney says much of what's been reported is untrue. He says the challenges were language-based, which improved after Fredericton High hired their own interpreter.
"To make sure that students understood the expectations, if there were some challenges to address them, and once that was done it became a lot better at the school," says Shawna Allen-Vandertoorn, co-ordinator for English as a Second Language programs.
About 1,300 Syrians have settled in New Brunswick since January, with 453 calling Fredericton home – more than any other city in the province.
About 30 young Syrians attend Fredericton High.
"We're talking about young people,” says Fredericton South MLA David Coon. “Kids, who come from a war-zone, who don't speak the language, who've been dropped into a very different culture and clearly we were unprepared to handle that."
McTimoney and Allen-Vandertoorn say 12 more teachers will be added in September because of the additional 181 Syrian students in Anglophone West.
They say there will be a part-time translator on hand when needed.
Shane Thomas, the principal of Fredericton High School, says they are working on improving scheduling for both teachers and students over the course of the summer. He says they're also working with the district to run a summer school language acquisition program.
Speaking in Halifax this week, Canada's Immigration Minister John McCullam says there will always be issues settling newcomers into Canadian society, but it continues to be a work-in-progress.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.