John Kostoff, director of education Register file photo.

Dufferin-Peel board won't appeal ruling exempting student from religion class

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  • April 22, 2014

MISSISSAUGA, ONT. - The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board will not appeal a court decision that allows parents to remove their non-Catholic children from religious classes and events.

The Ontario Divisional Court ruled, in its April 4 decision, that non-Catholic, "open access" students (those students in a high school who have previously attended a public elementary school) have the option of being exempted from religious events. It allowed Oliver Erazo's son, Jonathon, a student at Mississauga's Notre Dame Secondary School, an exemption from all religious courses, programs, retreats and events, including Mass, during the school day.

"The board has determined that the court decision, as applied in this particular case, does not affect our constitutional rights to operate a distinctly Catholic school system," said John Kostoff, director of education. "Nor will it significantly impact the inclusive, Christ-centred Christian nature of our schools."

Kostoff added that the board will continue to monitor the situation "moving forward and take appropriate action when and where required."
The board notes that the court's ruling only affects open access students, and that the vast majority of its students are Catholic and will continue to take religion courses.

"The cultural architecture of our schools remain intact," said Kostoff. "It is not possible for a student in our system to somehow receive a secular education devoid of Catholic influences simply by being exempted from a few courses, or by not attending liturgies or the occasional retreat. All of our courses contain an infused, woven, Christian perspective. Catholic education does not reside in any one subject alone, but rather in the total expression of our schools."

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