The Cross: A year ago, April 13, 2018, was enacted a law that you have brought to better supervise schools out of contract. What has your text changed?
Françoise Gatel: He came to put an end to a situation of powerlessness of the authorities, illustrated by the case of the school Al-Badr Toulouse, closed three years ago on state intervention and reopened after a lawsuit. My law is part of the freedom of education, a constitutional freedom that gives parents the obligation to educate their child, while choosing to do so in a public or private school or at home.
After the abuses observed, with institutions that contributed to radicalization, the law that bears my name came to tighten the conditions of opening, while harmonizing the different regimes that applied according to the degrees and ways of training (general, technological or professional).
Parliament toughens rules for non-contract schools
In particular, the mayor now has a period of three months and not more than eight days to oppose an opening. It is also necessary to specify the origin of the financing, to prove that the director has already held similar functions during five years, to provide at the opening and each year the list of the teachers … A control must take place during the first year. And in case of drift, we can close the school and force parents to send their child to another school.
Do you have a quantified balance sheet?
F.G .: In one year, according to the figures provided by the government, four schools have been closed due to fundamentalist drifts. In the same way, the procedure of opposition to the opening was used fifteen times.
But the application of the law also depends on the frequency of controls by state services and the way in which they are conducted. The inspectors themselves must, as is done in the Academy of Versailles, receive a specific training, both on the pedagogical level (some schools invoke the use of alternative pedagogies which it is important to know well) as on the financial plan.
What can be done about clandestine schools, which educate officially educated children at home?
F.G .: This is obviously part of the problem, which goes beyond the scope of my law, which aims to better regulate the opening and operation of non-contract private schools. However, before this text, it was possible to create one of these establishments in a private apartment. This is no longer the case, we must now meet specific standards of safety and accessibility, as for any place welcoming the public.
More generally, it is also necessary that parents – who are not always aware that the school is clandestine – themselves have requirements in terms of safety, pedagogy, respect for the free will of their child. The difficulty for clandestine schools, as well as for some non-contracted institutions with fundamentalist aims, is that in certain districts, the context and the pressure are such that it is difficult to opt for schooling in another setting.