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What are the conditions for opening a denominational school?

► How is the creation of private schools supervised?

Unless it is considered that it is only the branch of an existing establishment, any new school must operate for at least five years before requesting a possible contract of association with the State, paving the way for the financing of salaries. teachers. Its creation must be declared to the rectorate which, since the Gatel law of 2018, transmits the file to the prefect, the prosecutor and the mayor. The latter now has three months to oppose the opening. To do this, he can invoke non-compliance with standards for premises.

→ READ. Catholic schools outside contract affected by the law against “separatism”

This same law, intended to better regulate the exercise of freedom of education, provides that the head of the establishment must have ” exercised for at least five years managerial, teaching or supervisory functions in a public or private educational establishment of a Member State of the European Union or of another State party to the Agreement on European Economic Area “. It must specify the methods of financing the school and must provide each year the list of teachers. A control is carried out during the first year.

► Do specific criteria have to be respected to create a denominational establishment?

The expression “denominational establishment” has no legal basis. The Debré law of 1959, the principles of which were taken up in the Education Code, speaks of a “specific character”, deployed outside strictly school time. This specific character may or may not include a denominational dimension – this is the case for barely a third of schools outside the contract.

When you want to open an establishment, you are asked to describe the educational project, recalls Anne Coffinier, president of the association Create your school. But we are not formally bound to mention a possible denominational dimension, even if it exists.. “A fortiori, notes Didier Leschi, former director of the office of worship at the Ministry of the Interior (1),” the State cannot ask a religious authority if it validates the specific character of an establishment “.

The control carried out by the inspectors aims, he continues, to ensure that students acquire the level of knowledge required for their age in the programs and the common basis of national education “. But the continuum between the instruction part and the activities expressly linked to the denominational character of the project can sometimes pose a problem. ” A teacher claiming on school time that the world was created in six days, withholding or invalidating scientific knowledge on the curriculum, would be clearly off the mark », Estimates Anne Coffinier.

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One could also imagine that an establishment respects programs and a common base but involves outside speakers of radical religious discourse. ” In my opinion, the inspector must be able to assess the overall educational profile of the establishment and, if necessary, if there is a disturbance to public order, report to the prosecutor. “, Advance Didier Leschi, who pleads for a reinforcement of the controls.

Everything is a matter of appreciation, slips this specialist in secularism. ” A priest working in a private school can explain very well why he is opposed to abortion, but he cannot encourage students to come and demonstrate in front of clinics and hospitals to prevent women from having an abortion. », He gives as an example.

► What does the “separatism” law change?

Under consideration in Parliament, the bill confirming respect for republican principles toughens the legal framework that applies to schools outside the contract. In particular, it strengthens the penalties for school heads who break the rules (up to one year in prison and a € 75,000 fine). It also provides for the possibility of an administrative closure, in other words, without referral to the prosecutor, in the event of abuses and serious and repeated breaches of the regulations (risks to public order, health, physical or moral safety of students , or even insufficient teaching).

Even if certain Muslim schools are clearly in the sights of the executive, this text does not include any specific provision concerning “denominational” schools. The senators, who validated it Monday, April 12, on the other hand adopted an amendment to make it possible to avoid situations like that of Albertville. Very recently, the administrative court of Grenoble forced the mayor – who decided to appeal – to grant a building permit for a Muslim school, intended to accommodate 400 students and supported by the Islamic Confederation Millî Görüs, close to Turkey. If this amendment is maintained in the final version of the text, the prefect may oppose the opening of a private establishment. “For reasons drawn from France’s international relations or the defense of its fundamental interests”.


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