‘School failing us’, says mum
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.