Parents take bullying claims to school board
The management of Windley School remain tight-lipped amid allegations of unchecked bullying.
About 25 parents and staff attended a board of trustees meeting last Wednesday where the parents raised concerns about bullying, including a mother intent on taking legal action against the eastern Porirua school.
Mother Dania Andrews presented one of two letters tabled at the meeting, and stated her intention to take legal action against the school, saying her 12-year-old daughter had suffered bullying there since she was five years old.
She believed the bullying contributed to her daughter suffering a stomach ulcer.
‘‘I’m taking the school to court for concerns of my child’s wellbeing and I don’t think that I’ve been heard and my concerns haven’t been answered.’’
Binny Andrews, a kaumatua at the school, supported his daughter, saying he had seen the bullying first-hand and ‘‘felt for the children’’.
‘‘There is bullying – please check it out,’’ he said. ‘‘You have got some wonderful people here . . . and it’s a lovely school. It’s something that needs to be dealt with.’’
Another parent said he was disturbed to see his seven-year-old son come home from school crying.
‘‘I have a son and nieces and nephews that come here – they love it, but there’s an ongoing battle going on here.’’
This speaker was interrupted by a staff member who said the good things the school has done were being ignored. Without giving her name, she asked the parents what right they had to bring up negative concerns when they hadn’t attended fundraising functions or helped with school trips.
Ministry of Education guidelines did not allow the school board to respond, board chairmam Vanessa Johnson told the meeting. However, she said ‘‘the board doesn’t take this sort of thing lightly’’.
‘‘We will look into this, we will discuss this.’’
Board member Lepeti Tea raised a concern that controversial issues were not always brought to the board, but were dealt with by the chairwoman or principal without the board’s knowledge. Ms Johnson prevented any discussion on this matter.
Outside the meeting, three adults connected to the school have told Kapi-Mana News there are serious issues surrounding bullying or dysfunction within the school, although none would be named. One claimed there were instances of bullying among staff as well as students.
Kapi-Mana News attempted to speak with Ms Johnson and principal Judith Wootton numerous times last week. Ms Johnson did not return phone calls or emails, and we were told Ms Wootton was in meetings all Thursday and Friday.
On request, we emailed questions to her but we received no response at press time.
Ms Johnson told the Dominion Post last Wednesday she was mortified to hear there were allegations of bullying within the school.
Kapi-Mana News understands a mediation programme is being undertaken between staff and there is at least one employment dispute in progress.