Occupation of schools in Grenoble: “The State is failing” judges the deputy Christine Garnier

Hardly had winter set in, emergency accommodation services were already saturated, to the great concern of associations, particularly in Grenoble, where, for several weeks, families have occupied four schools in the city
, with the support of parents, teachers and elected officials. “The state is failing“, estimates this Friday, January 20 on France Bleu Isère Christine Garnier, assistant in charge of schools in Grenoble.

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France Bleu Isère: Do you support these occupations, do you understand them in any case?

Christine Garner: Yes, these occupations are the result of collectives of parents and teachers with the presence of municipal staff, it is not the city that organizes them, it is indeed collectives of parents and teachers who are revolted, quite rightly title: having students in their class who sleep on the streets, in cars, in makeshift shelters.

How many children are in this situation today?

So we have four occupied schools. Currently, we have seven families, less than twenty children. On the other hand, we identify between 60 and 80 children who are currently on the street in Grenoble.

How do we explain this situation? There is no particular accommodation solution for them…

The State is failing, it is responsible and in charge of emergency accommodation and does not provide enough places in emergency accommodation. We, the communes, must ensure the schooling of the children and we welcome all the children: if there is no place in a school, we educate them in the neighboring school.

You say it’s the fault of the state. But in this case, what can the municipality do not to leave these 80 children in the street?

We alert the Minister, Eric Piolle is in contact with the Minister of Housing, Olivier Klein. Other mayors also write to the Minister to alert him to this situation, to the need to increase the number of emergency accommodation places. And we also alert the local State, the prefecture and we submit to them the cases of these families, with school children or also babies who are currently on the street.

If the State fails, can you, the municipality, provide accommodation places? We heard on our antenna this Friday that 70 women are homeless in Grenoble. Do we not have the means to provide 70 places in Grenoble to accommodate them?

Grenoble and its CCAS are already doing a lot to provide emergency accommodation instead of the state. We already have 240 accommodation places in former teachers’ accommodation and in another location as well. Sometimes also, the City and the CCAS finance hotel rooms, but it is not our competence. It is the state that must do it.

And you can’t do more? That’s what you say this morning.

It’s a vicious circle, because the more the city does, the less the state does, unfortunately, so it doesn’t offer any more possibilities for these people.

You are burdening the State a great deal this morning. You spoke last month of “state racism” in France, a desire “not to host these people because they are migrants, exiles”. What is “state racism”?

It is an expression that I withdrew, because it is not adapted. What we see, however, is that these people on the street are overwhelmingly foreign, migrant. And so we could rather speak of institutional xenophobia, since there are not enough accommodation places. When you arrive, when you ask for asylum, you don’t automatically have a place. Then, when we are rejected, we are rejected from reception centers for asylum seekers, we don’t even have emergency accommodation even though the law says that the State must welcome all people in distress.

So, as long as the State does not welcome these people and these children, these families will remain in the schools of Grenoble?

It is the collectives, as I was saying, that organize the school activities, it is not the city, but the city accepts them and we warmly thank these collectives who make great efforts and enormous work to welcome these families in the schools. There are no beds, no kitchen, no showers. So these families bring mattresses, hot meals, welcome people to their homes to take showers. It’s an outpouring of tremendous generosity that we support.

A word, Christine Garnier, of the mobilization yesterday against the pension reform. You were in the procession in Grenoble yesterday. This movement is likely to last, what are you saying to the parents of students this morning?

It is a movement that we support. It is difficult for the parents, we understand it well, we are elected parents ourselves. I just want to remind them of the situation of the Atsem, whom they know well, the cleaners in the schools who are worn out at the end of their careers at 58-59 years old, it is not possible for them to work until 64 years old while it is a difficult job, but which is not currently recognized as painful.

The rectorate of Grenoble speaks of 40% of striking personnel in the academy. In Grenoble, do you have figures on strikes in schools?

I had forecasts, but I don’t have the results yet, simply because everyone was on strike yesterday, including the management staff. So no one was there to bring up the numbers.

Editor’s note: The prefecture ensures that there are 2,203 emergency accommodation places in Isère on the orientation of 115, to which are added 2,200 places reserved for asylum seekers.

Occupation of schools in Grenoble: “The State is failing” judges the deputy Christine Garnier