By: Brittany Keogh
An Auckland school that made two of its pupils apologise to the Warriors for allegedly asking visiting players about the team’s poor performance has threatened to ban parents who “undermine” the school on social media.
Blockhouse Bay Intermediate principal Michael Malins last week confirmed to the Weekend Herald two boys who asked questions which were deemed “disrespectful” to the school’s guests had “time to think about their actions and wrote letters of apology”.
He refused to reveal the exact wording of the questions, citing privacy concerns. But a source told the Weekend Herald one student asked why the team were so bad, and a second pupil asked where the team sat on the points table, during the school visit in early September.
After the Weekend Herald published a story about the incident last Saturday, the school sent a letter to parents signed by its board of trustees chairman Russell Matthews which said parents who spoke out about the school were in breach of its “very clear procedures”.
“A number of parents have been vocal in discrediting the school through social media. I can be clear that while we will continue to welcome their children, parents who use social media to undermine our staff and community, will no longer be welcome in our school,” says the letter, which has been obtained by the Weekend Herald.
Matthews wrote that he encouraged “all parents as members of our community and with students in the school to follow the school’s procedures” and that the board was proud of the school’s “Positive Behaviour for Learning” stance and supported its leaderships and “commitment to developing resilient students”.
Malins refused to comment on the letter when phoned by the Weekend Herald yesterday (September 29) and did not respond to emailed questions.
The Weekend Herald was also unable to reach Matthews.
However, a source who alerted the Weekend Herald to the letter said the social media comments the letter referred to had been posted on the Herald and Blockhouse Bay Community Facebook pages.
The letter, dated September 26, also said the school had been “unable to engage any further with the media to provide factual clarity” to protect students privacy.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said the Ministry had been working with Blockhouse Bay Intermediate since the Weekend Herald broke the story about the students being made to write an apology letter last Saturday.
“We are satisfied the school has acted appropriately and in the best interests of the students involved, the school and the wider school community.
“There was more to the incident than has been reported. The school’s leadership and Board of Trustees have high expectations around the behaviour of their students and felt it was important all their students understood there were consequences to their actions.
“However, to protect the privacy of the students involved, the school decided not to elaborate publicly.”
Despite the contents of the letter, Casey said the school wouldn’t ban parents who criticised it on social media.
Dr Bill Hodge, an expert in criminal law at the University of Auckland, confirmed a school could trespass people who interfered with the school, including parents.
But he added it would still be “pretty outrageous” if parents were banned.
New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Thomas Beagle said while he couldn’t comment on the legality of the letter, it seemed “very, very silly”.
“These people have got a right to put their views out. They have got a right to put their views out about the school their children go to.”
The Parenting Place, New Zealand’s largest parenting organsiation, chief executive Greg Fleming said parents who were retreating to social media to critique the school should put the keyboard away and go talk to the school directly.
“My plea to parents would be to go and actually talk to school leadership because they’re there to listen and they will,” said Fleming.
Source: NZ Herald