Parent issues safety concerns after student found unconscious

Josh Pennell
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School board says supervision is adequate

A parent is concerned with the amount of supervision his child is getting at school and with the response he’s gotten when he went looking for answers.

Beachy Cove Elementary

Dean Penton’s six-year-old attends Beachy Cove Elementary, a school that’s experiencing overcrowding to the point that the cafeteria is being used as classroom space.

Penton’s concerns were raised when he heard from another parent that their child was found unconscious in a closet after hitting their head. The little girl was taken to the hospital with a concussion, but because a teacher wasn’t in the room at the time of the incident, Penton says nobody knows how it happened.

Penton has since learned that three teachers are monitoring 15 classrooms or about 250 students at lunchtime.

“So basically half the school is being monitored by three teachers,” says Penton.

Penton’s six-year-old attends daycare when not in school. He says there has to be one adult for every five students and there has to always be a line of sight on the children.

“Yet when she gets aboard the bus and goes to the public institution that we have for education, it’s OK to have three teachers supervising 15 classrooms,” he says. “There should be no excuse for not having adequate supervision for children who are primary up to elementary.”

But the school says the supervision is adequate.

When Penton went looking for answers, he says he was given the runaround. He went to the school and brought up the issue with the principal and was told they were working with the resources they had. Penton then went to the school board and was told schools are responsible for supervision schedules. He then went to the Department of Education and was told it’s a school board responsibility and a direct school responsibility.

“So I can’t get an answer. The fingers are pointing in every direction,” he says.

Jeff Thompson, associate director of education with the school district, met with Penton and his wife last week. Thompson says there is a broad range of approaches to supervision and they vary depending on school size, grade configuration, etc.

Then it comes down to a school decision.

“The administration ultimately sets the supervision schedule for the school and then monitors the culture and climate within the school and makes decisions based on the feedback from teachers, from parents and students as to whether or not the supervision schedule that they have in place is working,” Thompson says.

When an issue can’t be resolved by contacting the school, it could be raised to the district level and may end up with Thompson, as happened with Penton’s issue.

“I’ve talked to the administration in the school. The administration in the school feels comfortable with the schedule they have in place,” says Thompson.

He also says there haven’t been any other concerns over supervision at Beachy Cove Elementary raised with him.  

But that hasn’t done much to quell Penton’s concerns. Since it’s come to his attention, he says other parents might want to think about their child’s safety at school.

“It’s something I think every parent should ask themselves now after what we’ve been through.”

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Recent comments

  • Amusing
    June 05, 2014 - 17:43

    Where is your son now? Ever heard of home schooling? Do you know where your child is 24/7...if you do you must have a webcam attached to him. No school provides one on one supervision, you need to teach him independence not mollycoddle him.

  • tom
    June 04, 2014 - 18:49

    Just to clarify my children went to mainland schools before we moved here. "Teacher" is incorrect in her statement, every school my kids attended had supervision during recess and lunch. As far as 5' and pregnant interfering with drug interactions. Give me a break. The teacher should witness and call the cops, not ignore and turn away as they do. Be an adult not just a teacher. The problem is that teachers have this attitude now of days that they just teach and if you are a difficult kid then they will just get you labelled with ADD and ignore you. Teachers are failing the kids now of days. Growing up our teachers devoted there time to the students, track, baseball and every other sport after school and weekends. If there was a fight the kids were yanked by the ear to the office and you were dealt with. Now it's turn away and ignore. You are not teachers anymore. You are not devoted to the kids as teachers once were. Teachers were a special breed and not a bunch of cry babies only taking the job for the summers off. My brother and sister are both teachers don't even try the BS with me, I know the difference.

  • Understanding Parent
    June 04, 2014 - 18:08

    At other schools in the metro area, the majority of supervision during break times are done by parent volunteers . . . maybe Mr. Penton would like to sign up to help?

  • Jeannette
    June 04, 2014 - 17:51

    My son went to that school, I had such concerns with the principal and my child's safety under his guidance, I wrote a Novel of complaint to the school board. You would be surprised to know how many other parents are "concerned"

  • Harold
    June 04, 2014 - 16:54

    when people voted to end denominational education in our schools in Newfoundland all our school problems were to be solved or so we were told. seems we only made matters worse.

  • J
    June 04, 2014 - 16:09

    One kid got hurt. Kids get hurt. No matter how many teachers are there they can't watch all the time. What is wrong with all of you people? One person commenting on here actually talks about high school kids needing security. High school students do not need constant supervision. Kids don't need constant supervision. If you people have your way then kids are one day going to get out of school with no idea how to look out for themselves. Let them get hurt, it happens. They are kids. You are all idiots.

    • Yo mama
      June 05, 2014 - 12:01


  • Teacher
    June 04, 2014 - 15:40

    Newfoundland is the only district in North America that requires its teachers to provide supervision. Further, what do you think is going on in high schools? Do you think a pregnant, 5'0 teacher is going to have any impact on stopping a high school fight over drugs, for example? NL is in dire need of professional security, including security guards, at its schools. Try going to the Department of Education, and you will see how locked up that place is. But anyone can easily get into any school in this province and do whatever. And never mind the locked doors policy. Kids jam the "locked doors" so they don't have to go around to the front of the school to get buzzed in. Seriously, look into security people, and maybe allow the teachers to TEACH!

  • Joanne
    June 04, 2014 - 15:08

    I think as a parent today ,that there should be cameras in every classroom /schools and buses .then there wouldn't be wondering what happened .

  • Louise
    June 04, 2014 - 13:17

    When my child was 5 in beachy cove last year. I dropped her off at school and stayed until bell rang every morning and I never saw a teacher look in at them let alone be in the classroom. One day there was an issue and the kids got into a fight and were loud and running around. I had to be the one to settle that situation down as there wasn't a teacher in sight, I was so upset as my child has been in daycare since she was 2 and I never experienced anything like this. A group of 20 5 year olds. And the point about government regulatating daycares is 100% correct. A daycare would be shut down if they left twenty, 5 year old children unattendant for 15 minutes yet it is the norm in our schools in the morning, recess and lunch hours. Something needs to be done to keep our kids safe. I know teachers deserve a lunch break as well but our childrens saefty has to come first and I would hope our teachers and principles would think the same. Lets not wait for a horrible situation happens before regulations are put in our schools the same way they are for every daycare in our province. We are talking about the safety of our children here. Leaving them alone to their own devices is just unacceptable.

    • Justin
      June 04, 2014 - 14:40

      Maybe you should go to school with your child. You could supervise and also get a sorely needed lesson in spelling and grammar while you're at it.

    • Jean Hobbs
      June 04, 2014 - 15:29

      Really Justin, you need to resort to trying to demean a parent who is concerned with their child's welfare. He got his point across quite fine. Not everyone is a Rhodes Scholar. Shame on you.

  • Isabelle
    June 04, 2014 - 12:54

    If this child is in kindergarten the child should be able to tell you how they got hit in the head. While I agree that there needs to be supervision, I do not agree with one adult for 5 kids in a school. Children in daycare are most commonly younger and need to be supervised closer than those of school age. I feel for the family above and would also want answers as to what happened, I would be more concerned as to why my child was in a closet. Kids do the darnest things in school, anything could have happened for them to get hit in the head. My question would be how did they get in a closet?

    • Judy
      June 04, 2014 - 19:04

      She was not in a closet, she was in a coat room. She was playing with another girl and was accidentally dropped. She hit her head and got a concussion. The way it is written makes it seem like something sordid happened. It was an accident, plain and simple. And "because a teacher wasn’t in the room at the time of the incident, Penton says nobody knows how it happened." ??? More than 30 kids were in the room, and they know exactly what happened. This article is sensationalized, and it does nothing to further your cause.

    • Katy
      June 05, 2014 - 08:17

      Judy, you point out more than 30 6-year-olds were in the room, but no adult. Laws prevent such lack of supervision in day cares, and common sense prevents it at parties, but schools actually schedule it? No surprise there was an accident.

  • Larla
    June 04, 2014 - 12:06

    So from what I'm understanding reading this article and comments is that people want 1 adult for every 5 kids or so? So in a school with 300 kids there should be 60 adults supervising? I will point out that a classroom has 1 teacher for 25 students so there aren't enough teachers for that. And what about lunchbreaks which teachers barely get now. Parents better get going volunteering to supervise at lunch. Frankly this sounds like helicopter parenting.

    • Angela
      June 04, 2014 - 13:20

      No. I don't think anybody is saying that 60 teachers are needed to supervise 250 kids. However, more than 3 teachers are DEFINATELY needed to properly supervise 250 kids.

  • Angela
    June 04, 2014 - 08:35

    I remember attending St. Patricks School as a child and there would be no supervision during the lunch hour so the teachers would lock us outside (no matter how cold it was) so they would not be liable. There was no concern for our safety and it doesn't seem like much has changed in the past 30 years. It's time for the school board to smarten up. Kids need supervision.

  • Heidi
    June 04, 2014 - 07:06

    I would sue. The Eastern school board' s policies on supervision could have been written by a child. My child attends Topsail elementary and they basically have the same policy. My child started school at the age of 4 and was left unsupervised in a class with 15 other. Two teachers walked the halls, and would ocasionally stick their heads through a doorway for a quick glance. Two teachers to supervise 200+ children. I had the same questions, what if a child struck their head, 4 and 5 years old would utimately have to report any accident that ocurred. Simply negligence and a clear lacking of common sense!!! Daycares have much stricter guidelines on their ratios of children for each caregiver. I believe 1 worker for every 8 children of that age. These guidelines are in fact written and enforced by the goverment. I have a degree in social work and lack of supervision is considered negligence in any home. So my guestion is, why has the Eastern school district been allowing this neglect to continue for so long???

    • Jean Hobbs
      June 04, 2014 - 08:37

      Because a child hasn't died under their care.....yet.