Par­ents take bul­ly­ing claims to school board

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KARO­LINE TUCKEY

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.’’

Ms An­drews’

fa­ther

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.

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