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