Concerned parents hold meeting

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Concerned parents are starting to speak out about what’s going on at Queen of Peace Middle School. Last Monday about 50 people gathered at the Friendship Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay to vent their frustrations and develop a plan to address the perceived problems at the school.

The parents are responding to a leaked workplace assessment of the middle school, which was first reported on in The Telegram.

According to the original column, written by Michael Johansen : “Work life at the Queen of Peace School in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is rife with fear, secrecy, disrespect, conflict, tension, animosity, bullying, favouritism, intimidation, rudeness and childishness — and most of it seems to be the fault of the school administration.

What has really irked parents is the part of the report which suggests that the children may not be exempt from the poisonous environment.

“It’s also accused of being “dramatic about mistakes,” and of showing favouritism towards certain staff and students (“kids are treated with disrespect, especially low-income”).”

The meeting at the Friendship Centre was organized by Valerie Pardy-Rachwal, through the Facebook group she created called “Concerned Parents of QPMS students.`` Pardy-Rachwal, who has a child at QPMS, stood in front of the crowd and didn`t hold back her criticism of the school`s administration.

 “Neither the administration of Queen of Peace Middle School or The Labrador School Board is making it their priority to deal with the issues,” said Pardy-Rachwal. “That’s why I think, we as parents need to go above the School Board, maybe to the Department of Education.”

“I have a lot of respect for what teachers do. Us parents trust them with our children’s education. But how can we expect teachers at Queen of Peace Middle School to reach their potential as educators when they have to work every day in this negative environment?”

Pardy-Rachwal wasn`t alone in placing the blame on the administration and the school board; Others also held the belief that the situation, as described in the leaked report, should not have been allowed to fester for so long.

“There are wonderful teachers there and that’s why they chose to teach,” said a concerned resident. “This (problem) is not new to the current administration. I’ve had children go (to Queen of Peace) for years and it hasn’t changed.”

There were voices at the meeting that expressed personal frustration at the school. Some parents began crying as they told stories of their child's difficulties while attending Queen of Peace.

“(The report) actually didn’t surprise me that much,” said one mother. “My son’s been (at Queen of Peace) for four years…right from the first week, it was a completely different environment than Peacock Academy. Culture shock is what it was.”

“I was very thankful when my kids left that school,” said another parent as she tried to hold back tears. “Especially one child in particular who had issues, the way he was dealt with in that school, through the administration…”

But when all the venting was done, the group brainstormed ideas of what they could do to address the issue. The idea which seems to be the most popular moving forward is setting up a concerned parents committee.

Lake Melville MHA Keith Russell also showed up at the meeting. Russell spoke briefly to the crowd, saying he’s willing to meet with the concerned parents at any time to hear their concerns. Russell would not take questions from the media after the meeting, however.

No teachers from Queen of Peace, or school administration attended the meeting. But Labrador School Board Director of Education, Henry Windeler, says that he reached out to Pardy-Rachwal before the meeting, but she didn’t return his calls. In an interview with The Labradorian, Windeler described Queen of Peace as a good school, with good staff and students.

“The fact is that there have been no issues throughout the school year. These issues have arisen as a result of an internal document being released,” said Windeler, when asked about parents’ concerns of the school environment. “So that would lead me to believe that the school environment for the children is supportive of children programming and the issues that have been identified are more of an employee issue.”

Organizations: Peace Middle School, Friendship Centre, The Labrador School Board Department of Education Peacock Academy

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay, The Telegram

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  • dan
    June 09, 2013 - 11:40

    Looks like the Dove(r) has caused quite a fuss in school. Look out Town of HVGB, he will do the same as recreation director.....a job he shouldn't be getting with his $75,000 teacher's pension starting in September.