Fears for chil­dren’s well­be­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - CA­TRIN OWEN

St Joseph’s School prin­ci­pal has been threat­ened, put her school in lock-down and fears the safety of her pupils.

All be­cause of the res­i­dents next door.

The board­ing house sit­u­ated at 454 Great North Rd used to be a for­mer con­vent but was sold by St Joseph’s church over 20 years ago. Since then it’s been a home to low-in­come earn­ers.

Prin­ci­pal Regina Smuga has been at the Grey Lynn school for the past two terms. She says the neigh­bours have been caus­ing real headaches on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions.

Back in Au­gust she ar­rived at school at around 7am and says she po­litely asked one of the neigh­bours to turn down their loud mu­sic.

‘‘He replied back say­ing the chil­dren are re­ally loud so why couldn’t he be,’’ Smuga says.

‘‘Next thing I know he was on the other side of the front doors and was say­ing he’s on med­i­ca­tion and ‘that’s my home’.

‘‘He was quite abu­sive and I walked away and then he walked away.’’

The gentle­man then re­turned to the school with a piece of pa­per and was ‘‘storm­ing the whole school’’ look­ing for Smuga.

At this point chil­dren were be­gin­ning to ar­rive and Smuga made the de­ci­sion to put the school into lock-down. The pupils were hand-walked in to a room where the door was locked un­til the po­lice ar­rived.

‘‘This guy was ready to hit me and if he had found me, my DP said he was in that height­ened state that he quite pos­si­bly could have,’’ she says.

‘‘Be­ing the prin­ci­pal, I have to not be scared, it is very in­tim­i­dat­ing’’.

Se­nior Sergeant Si­mon Welsh con­firms the po­lice were called to the school, how­ever says it was a mi­nor in­ci­dent. He says the po­lice are aware of the prob­lems and have been called out nu­mer­ous times.

The man­ager and owner of St Joseph’s Lodge de­nies any is­sues with his board­ers in­volv­ing the po­lice and the school.

How­ever, Smuga says there are re­ports of prob­lems dat­ing back to 2004.

The roll has dropped con­sid­er­ably in the last three years from 200 to just 69, Smuga says there are a num­ber of rea­sons for the drop how­ever the house next door is a con­tribut­ing fac­tor.

Two par­ents who both have chil­dren at­tend­ing the school are con­cerned about the safety of their chil­dren who have been ex­posed to ver­bal abuse but never phys­i­cally hurt.

‘‘I had prospec­tive clients com­ing in to en­rol their chil­dren and they loved the school, but their com­ment was there was peo­ple sit­ting out­side the house drink­ing dur­ing the day,’’ Smuga says.

How­ever, the prob­lems may soon go away as St Joseph’s Lodge was put up for sale in March.

It is the first time it has been put up for sale since the early 1990s when it was pur­chased by its cur­rent owner.

St Joseph’s lodge is up for sale but its res­i­dents have been caus­ing prob­lems with the school next door.

CA­TRIN OWEN/ FAIR­FAX NZ

St Joseph’s School prin­ci­pal Regina Smuga is con­cerned about the safety of her pupils.

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