Broadcaster ‘disgusted’ with
school after bullying
4:00AM Saturday Dec 20, 2008
By Vaimoana Tapaleao
Broadcaster Kate Hawkesby has pulled her two children out of their Remuera primary school after its handling of a case of bullying.
A Ministry of Education inquiry is underway after a 10-year-old child was bullied at Victoria Avenue School in Auckland.
An independent report commissioned by the school’s board of trustees said the school’s handling of the case was “so badly flawed and biased that it has revictimised the complainant child”.
Hawkesby, who reads the news on Auckland’s radio station NewstalkZB and yesterday read out the report about the school, is among parents who say the lack of quality leadership and intimidation has led to the “downslide” of the school.
The former TVNZ Breakfast co-host said the case had contributed to her decision to remove her children from the school – but there were other factors as well.
“I’m absolutely disgusted. They [head staff] were very ineffectual in dealing with us [parents] and they didn’t seem interested in what we had to say or enforcing the necessary punishment to the perpetrator.”
In the incident in question, a child was pushed up against a wall and “humped” (simulated sex).
Hawkesby said one of her sons had also been bullied – in a completely different way – and she had been unimpressed with the school’s handling of the case.
Taking him and his brother out of the school was a no-brainer, she said.
“No mother wants to have their kid go through that.
“You’ll do anything for your kids. I think the reason I took it so far [to the Ministry of Education] was because many parents had gone through the same situation – [head staff] just did not care.
“There was a culture there that was pretty rife. It wasn’t the staff, but the leadership at the school.”
Another mother, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she initially sent her children to the school because of its high reputation and fond memories that she had had of the school where she was a pupil years before.
But “appalling treatment” of parents and students had led to her regretting the decision, she said.
“Very manipulative and intimidating. It’s terrifying for parents. My son was accused of being a bully. He was basically screamed and shouted at and told that he was lying – they later found that it wasn’t true,” the mother said.
The school did not return calls from the Weekend Herald yesterday.
The ministry has said it has been assured the school is developing a plan to follow up on the report.