‘School fail­ing us’, says mum

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

A Whitby mother fight­ing to get sup­port for her son with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties claims Post­gate School man­age­ment has alien­ated and threat­ened her, but the school is sat­is­fied the mother’s con­cerns have been ad­dressed.

Mil­lie Ta­pu­soa says her ad­vo­cacy for her son’s ed­u­ca­tion and her re­quests for trans­parency from the school are be­ing ig­nored and de­layed be­cause she is seen as an ‘‘an­noy­ance’’.

‘‘I am past frus­tra­tion,’’ she says. ‘‘I feel that I’ve ex­hausted all my op­tions.’’

Post­gate board of trustees chair­woman Jac­qui Edwards says the board has re­sponded to all Ms Ta­pu­soa’s re­quests sat­is­fac­to­rily.

In term one this year Post­gate adopted National Stan­dards and Ms Ta­pu­soa’s nine-year-old son, who has at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der, got a school re­port show­ing he was fail­ing badly. Pre­vi­ous years’ re­ports had given lit­tle in­di­ca­tion of this, she says.

‘‘We put all this ef­fort into com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the school. We would as­sume that if there were is­sues with our child’s learn­ing some­one would tell us.’’

When Ms Ta­pu­soa ap­proached Post­gate about get­ting more sup­port for her son she says she found he was not on its spe­cial needs reg­is­ter, his teacher had not been in­formed of his learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, and a staff mem­ber who pre­vi­ously sup­ported spe­cial needs pupils was now re­spon­si­ble for a class full-time.

The child’s teacher, who Ms Ta­pu­soa says is ex­cel­lent, ar­ranged for the school’s teacher aide to spend a cou­ple of hours a week one-on-one with Ms Ta­pu­soa’s son, for a koha of $15 an hour, but school man­age­ment stalled the ar­range­ment for two months be­fore deny­ing it, claims the mother.

‘‘We’ve been told he can’t get sup­port one-to-one but we be­lieve he needs sup­port one-to-one.’’

Ms Ta­pu­soa, a former school board chair­woman, then started re­quest­ing in­for­ma­tion about the school’s spe­cial needs pol­icy and its fund­ing struc­tures, but she claims the school man­age­ment was re­sis­tant to re­leas­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion. A re­quest for the school’s an­nual re­port ap­peared to be stalled be­fore she re­ceived a doc­u­ment with half the pages miss­ing.

Af­ter voic­ing fur­ther con­cerns about the high cost of school swim­ming at a Tawa pool and her two sons miss­ing out on school sports, Ms Ta­pu­soa claims prin­ci­pal Adam Camp­bell told her she was be­com­ing an ‘‘an­noy­ance’’ and risked be­ing ‘‘iso­lated’’ by school man­age­ment.

De­spite a for­mal com­plaint to the board about this in­ci­dent, Ms Ta­pu­soa be­lieves she has been iso­lated as she strug­gles to get any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the school.

Ms Ta­pu­soa be­lieves the treat­ment she has re­ceived is un­fair and is be­cause she is the one ask­ing ques­tions. She has writ­ten to min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion Anne Tol­ley but Ms Tol­ley rec­om­mended she me­di­ate with Mr Camp­bell. Ms Ta­pu­soa feels she has run out of ways to sup­port her son.

‘‘I’m not say­ing Post­gate School is a bad school, it’s a good school. What I want to make clear is as a par­ent I’ve had this ex­pe­ri­ence, and it’s one par­ent too many,’’ she says.

Post­gate board chair­woman Jac­qui Edwards pro­vided Kapi-Mana News with a writ­ten state­ment on be­half of the prin­ci­pal and board: ‘‘We have re­sponded and are cur­rently re­spond­ing to all the re­quests [Ms Ta­pu­soa] has made of the school.

‘‘We are sat­is­fied with the pro­cesses we have put in place to ad­dress these.’’

She added that Post­gate is a suc­cess­ful school and the board is proud of its staff and stu­dents.

Prin­ci­pal Adam Camp­bell con­firmed there was a per­son­al­ity clash with Ms Ta­pu­soa but de­clined to com­ment fur­ther, other than to say it was a del­i­cate le­gal mat­ter.

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