Thirty families of Canet school pupils open "legal battle" to defend Catalan in classrooms

It is the first time that parents go to court to reverse the imposition of 25% of classes in Spanish

3 min
A mother accompanies her children at the Cerro del Dragón school in Canet de Mar.

BarcelonaUp to 30 families of pupils at Turó del Drac school in Canet de Mar affected by the High Court ruling establishing at least 25% of classes have to be in Spanish have decided to appear as affected parties in the judicial process to defend Catalan in the classroom. Since December, five-year-old pupils get 6 and a half hours of teaching in Spanish per week (25%), at the request of a single family, who appealed to the courts. This morning they have submitted a letter to Catalonia's High Court to ask to be included as a party in the judicial process. "We feel questioned because no one, neither the school nor the complainant family, has allowed us to defend ourselves," said Helena Díaz, spokesperson for the families.

This is the first time that a group of families has organised to defend the use of Catalan in the classroom through the courts and "reverse the imposition" of 25% of classes in Spanish, a measure which, according to these families, breaks the model of linguistic immersion established in Catalonia. Currently in Catalonia there are 35 groups in different schools where the measure of 25% of classes in Spanish is applied due to court rulings. Now the families of Canet (representing 30 of the 49 five-year-old children enrolled) are the first to also stand up in the "legal battle, for all purposes and at all levels". We will not remain silent, nor will we assume the political use of our children," said the families' spokeswoman. "The measures applied are beyond any linguistic and social argument".

These families' lawyer, Benet Salellas, has explained that now the High Court has to decide whether to accept them as an affected party. "For us it is very clear. The precautionary measure applied directly affects families and that is why we want to discuss legally with evidence, documents and reports what has to happen with 25%", said Salellas, who has remarked that the first point is to ask for this precautionary measure to be lifted because "the law protects families who want Catalan as the classroom language".

The right to choose the language

Salellas recalled that, legally, "families do not have the right to choose the language of schooling of their children on an individual basis". And he turned his own argument around: "If we recognise that families have the right to choose the language of their children's schooling, then why not ask all families?" said Salellas, who assured that the great majority ask for the maintenance of schooling in Catalan. "Until now, these families have not been given the right to have a voice, that is why we are asking to appear in person," insisted the lawyer.

The affected families have explained that they are aware of other schools and classrooms in their situation and admit having had meetings with other parents who have been interested in the situation and the steps they are taking in Canet. However, for the moment they are not aware that any other school has started a legal procedure like theirs. "At the judicial level each school would have to raise its own process; another thing is that we can coordinate at the level of mobilisations," said another of the parent spokespersons, Marcos de Vera.

During the next few weeks, the High Court will have to decide whether or not to accept these families as an involved party and will have to resolve the request to withdraw the precautionary measure. When these points are resolved, the court will go on to analyse the merits of the matter and will issue a sentence. Then the appeals process will begin. "If necessary, we will exhaust them," the lawyer said.

The families have also added that, at the same time, the atmosphere in the school "continues to be as cordial as ever" and that the only "strange" moments have been when the media and police forces have gathered at the door as a result of the media and political controversy.