School denies bullying culture, parents upset
Windley School denies it has a culture of bullying and dysfunction – the board of trustees certain that itself and staff are making decisions in the best interest of students.
Kapi-Mana News last week reported on a tense board of trustees meeting attended by about 25 parents and staff, at which two letters alleging bullying were tabled. One staff member claimed parents who did not volunteer time to the school have no right to raise such concerns.
Board chairman Vanessa Johnson and principal Judith Wootton would not speak to our reporter, but a written response from Ms Johnson, on behalf of the BOT, was received on Friday.
She said the board takes all issues raised by its community seriously, and the concerns raised at the meeting have been reviewed. The board has decided on actions to be taken, but she did not elaborate further on what these actions were.
Ms Johnson said the board was unable to comment on individual complaints or employment matters ‘‘out of respect for those concerned and the rules that boards work under’’.
At the August 31 meeting, the six-strong board unanimously agreed the school management team ‘‘consistently makes decisions based on the best interests of the students in the school’’ and Ms Johnson ‘‘is doing an outstanding job for Windley School’’.
Since January the board has received Ministry of Education training to ‘‘build a shared understanding of our governance role’’, Ms Johnson says. ‘‘ We have initiatives in place to promote a safe school environment. We work hard to build positive relationships with families and whanau. We will continue to work with our school community.’’
Furthermore, Ms Johnson said Windley staff and trustees have the backing of the community, and cited positive roll growth ( 375 students, up from 347 since January).
Kapi-Mana News was contacted by several parents last week, who backed up claims of bullying at the school. One mother said our article was a watered-down account of the board meeting, claiming the parents in attendance were treated much harsher. She also alleged the school knew there was a bullying problem as the topic was mentioned in a school newsletter.
We endeavoured to review Wind- ley’s recent newsletters online but the website has been ‘‘under construction’’. Online, the issue attracted dozens of comments, most in support of parents’ allegations.
‘‘My son and his wife were about to start my granddaughter at this school in two weeks’ time but have now changed their minds because of what’s happening,’’ wrote Liam.
Sue S wrote: ‘‘Yes it happens everywhere but in this case it went way too far, in fact seven years, and to have staff telling parents not to speak their minds . . . wow ... that’s so wrong.’’
Several comments expressed outrage that a staff member would dismiss the concerns of parents who did not volunteer at school events.
‘‘Is it in Windley School’s child’s enrolment form that you have to fundraise to be heard?’’ wrote Robyn.