Blamed the teachers then the children now lets try the parents!

What do NT’s politicians and education bureaucrats do when the data on Indigenous student school attendance is still not improving?

How do they deflect some of the light being shone on them?

Well it seems they have reached the point where they can’t keep claiming they have to get better teachers or continue blaming the children for being the problem. That’s what the NT government did with the Don Dale scandal, remember!

It seems that rather than examine the real reasons why many Indigenous children have difficulty engaging with their local school, the department of Education is now going to blame the parents.

So now it seems that taking parents to court is going to be another method of improving attendance!

What of the young boy at Kalkarindji School in 2015, who was threatened with a cattle prod by his principal to actually leave the school and go home on his own?

A young child threatened with a weapon and made to walk home on his own. Come on people!!!!!

Yes there were witnesses.

Mrs. Lawler’s statement “We want all children to attend school every day so they can get a great education” would ring hollow to those who know about the actions of Mr. Parker and the response of senior executives of the department of Education and two Chief Ministers and two Ministers of Education in both the Giles and Gunner governments.

What did the Department of Education do when they received reports of this incident?

Did they remove the principal? Finally six months later after repeated questioning by journalists, and just in time to ensure he was not present when National media were present in the community of Kalkarindji and Dagaragu to cover the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Walk Off.

That would have been just too dangerous for the senior education executives who were present and who were trying to deflect media attention with a slick public relations exercise.

Why is this organization so prepared to take parents to court over student attendance, yet it covers up inappropriate behavior by one of it’s principals?

Maybe it is easier to have Indigenous parents fined in court because they have no power to fight back! Maybe it is a case of well it will cost us to much to admit he did the wrong thing so lets just move him. For some of us that sounds just like what the Catholic Church are being examined for.

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No inspiration here!

So the NT News thinks these people rank among the top 120 most powerful people in the Northern Territory!

Both the Cambridge and Collins dictionary define a powerful person as one who is able to control and influence people and events.

Some of us would have experienced the positive aspect of being involved with a person with more power than ourselves. You know those people who inspire and lead others to great things, like Brigadier Arnold Potts, a country farmer from Western Australia who led the Australian 21st Infantry Brigade on the Kokoda Track in 1942.

Unfortunately many have experienced the exact opposite of this. They have been on the receiving end of adverse action by people with more power than themselves, and who often have another agenda that will have adverse effect on others.

There is a growing understanding in society that such actions are really just a form of bullying to get the result they feel is necessary or will achieve their own personal goals.

People like Harvey Weinstein use a particular form of bullying, but there are many forms of bullying used to control and influence others. In Arnold Potts situation it seems that General Sir Thomas Blamey bullied this hero in an effort to cover his own arse and keep face with General MaCarthur.

What happens when your employer wants to make changes against your will or cover their own arse? Do they inspire you to accept the challenge or do they just force it on you?

The Northern Territory Department of Education does not have a good track record managing staff and incidents that reflect poorly on the organisation, and just like Blamey did to Arnold Potts, they also take adverse action against good people to cover their own arse and the arse of the organisation.

HR Mangers who set up fake Facebook pages in teachers names, Regional Directors who send e-mails to each other denigrating other staff, Principals who assault women in public places, teachers who assault students and Principals who act inappropriately by threatening children with cattle prods or taping them to desks to restrain them.

Ask these powerful people how they reacted when informed about the cattle prod incident. Did they inspire others or did they cover their arses?

Yes these people may have power over others and organisations, but are they real leaders inspiring others or are they just bureaucrats doing the bidding of their masters or in fact acting to protect their own arses?

Workers are right to be wary of HR.

Human resources is the first place that employees look to for support and assistance in cases of sexual harassment and assault at work. A good HR department should be capable of initiating the investigation necessitated by such allegations while also supporting and protecting employees. A good HR department should be able to balance the interests of the organization with the real needs of employees – and that of justice. But as we’ve seen at Uber, Tesla, and the Weinstein Company, not all human resources departments are interested in helping humans, aside from those at the very top. Some HR departments are complicit in toxic workplace cultures, working to sweep allegations under the rug and even sabotage investigations. And some HR personnel are themselves predators, using their positions of power to harass and even assault employees.            Megan Purdy – Workology

 

Ruth Cornish, an independent HR consultant and member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), says workers are right to be wary of HR. “As a department, it is purely there to support senior management,” she says. “I have seen cases where HR staff, deemed to be too employee-focused, are actually got rid of.  I’ve been in HR for most of my career and while we were very much there to help initially, that has evolved to the other extreme.” Mark King – The Guardian

 

You need to constantly balance a number of elements: your professional and ethical responsibilities; the organisation to help it achieve its strategic goals; the need to broker solutions and not raise problems,” she says. “But above all, you must explain the rules to your clients and make it clear when they are in danger of breaking them.” In the case of workplace laws, any individuals involved in facilitating a breach of the law can be held personally liable as an accessory. Provisions extending workplace liability for contraventions of the law to people ‘involved’ have been in place for more than a decade. Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James

 

The Northern Territory Department of Education Human Resource Directorate has an abominable record of dealing with employee complaints of bullying and unethical behaviour by Principals and executive staff.

Not too long ago the Manager of this Directorate was sacked as a result of a very public disclosure. This manager illegally set up a false Facebook page in the name of a teacher who was trying to have this Directorate deal with bullying and harassment by the teacher’s Principal and Regional Director, everyone would remember Hylton Hayes!!!!

THE QUESTION MUST BE ASKED, HAS ANYTHING CHANGED?

For those involved in the Kalkarindji Cattle Prod scandal, the answer is a big NO! Again the offender is moved and the person making the complaint is victimised.

Vicki Baylis advises staff to read chapter 16 of the Royal Commission’s report.

Vicki Baylis advises staff to read chapter 16 of the Royal Commission’s report. Yes this report contains much good advice for teachers of Indigenous children to digest and absorb into their teaching practise.

Although it is very ironic that she states,

The report emphasises the importance of our priority to support every Territory child’s successful journey to adulthood, and education is key to that.“

Why is it ironic? Of all people Vicki Baylis would be well aware of what took place at Kalkarindji school under Mr. Parker’s management, and that one particular child was not shown this ‘important priority’ by Mr. Parker. In fact the department of Education has refused to reveal the Special Investigators report into these matters, and some believe that this department has quietly settled the matter with the child’s family to avoid further adverse media reports and scrutiny.

We would point out the following excerpts from the Commissions report which have a direct relevance to what had been taking place at Kalkarindji School.

In a counter-productive approach, children and young people were excluded from the classroom arbitrarily without assistance to help them to improve their behaviours and stay in the classroom learning.”

This was a common practise at Kalkarindji school by young inexperienced teachers who could not cope with students who had difficulty settling and managing their behaviour.

Within the classroom, the discretion to exclude or suspend students for disciplinary reasons was overused, and at times staff members did not appreciate the needs of their students.”

The most glaring example of this practise at Kalkarindji school was one young male teacher having 132 suspensions for his year ¾ class in the 2015 school year.

The Commission also reported that,

While data on the health status of students in the Northern Territory is not aggregated, it is uncontroversial that students in youth detention in the Northern Territory often present with diagnosed or undiagnosed cognitive impairments, as well as complex psychological, health and social issues. These can include Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Attention De cit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADHD or ADD), Oppositional De ance Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, neglect, trauma, substance or alcohol misuse or abuse, and speech, vision and/or hearing impairments. In addition, some students in youth detention in the Northern Territory speak a first language or languages other than English.”

The child Mr. Parker threatened with his cattle prod is believed to have suffered from one of these conditions. In an urban school this child would have received appropriate support that would not include his mother having to sit with him in class.

The Commission report stated that,

Research also suggests that mental health issues and cognitive impairments are commonly interrelated with educational disabilities, such as ‘receptive’ and ‘expressive’ language difficulties. If unrecognised and untreated, these interrelated characteristics can result in children and young people displaying inappropriate behaviours in the classroom and achieving poor rates of literacy.”

A very pertinent point that the teacher of this child should have been aware of and Mr. Parker should have organised and provided specialised assistance for.

The Commission found that,

At times, students at the Tivendale school were excluded from the classroom by disproportionate responses that prioritised the collective over individual education rights and did not seek to help individual students improve their behaviour so they could remain in the classroom learning.”

This is a particularly pertinent point that teachers in remote schools struggle with on a daily basis and this boys teacher has prioritised the collective over the individual needs of this student, but instead of dealing with the matter appropriately he took unethical actions and excluded this boy from the classroom, effectively further marginalising this boy from an effective education and the Commissions following finding is a perfect example of this.

At Tivendale School, at times some students were punished disproportionately by imposing a suspension or exclusion from school without adequate regard to alternative means of behaviour management and planning to ensure their continued engagement with education.”

Locking a young student out of the classroom to wander the school on his own is not an effective behaviour management strategy, neither is instructing him to go home on his own because he is having difficulty managing his behaviour. When he objected and started throwing rocks at the school Mr. Parker’s decision to use his cattle prod to persuade the boy to leave the school grounds would offend any reasonable person.

What is more offensive is that this Principal was removed from this school and community only after numerous media reports and was later promoted to another Principal position and the young teacher was promoted as a Teaching Principal in another remote community.

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Lawler, when is the penny going to drop for you??

We can tell you why mature aged males are either leaving your schools or are not rushing to apply for positions in NT schools.

The word is well and truly out now.

It’s not about being accused by children or their families of being a pedophile, most mature males have families and have been well and truly checked by the Police before they enter this profession.

Its your department and the people they hire as Principals that are the problem.

Appointing teachers who may be good with their paperwork does not translate into them being a good manager, and employing teachers who have never worked outside of the school system means you have principals who are micro-managers and cannot cope with another adult disagreeing with them. Apparently disagreeing with someone is considered as not being a professional or team player!

Mature aged males have life experience, and if they decide to take up teaching as a career later in their lives, they are highly unlikely to put up with the behaviors your principals demonstrate, and your departments history of handling disputes like this is abominable.

Lets have a look at some of those principals and other staff of DOE over the last few years.

Daryl Bullen – bullied teachers at Ramingining before being goaled for assaulting a women in Darwin.

Hylton Hayes – bullied staff for years, sued by a teacher, but still nominated for awards by the Deputy Chief Executive Marion Guppy. (What criteria did she use for this nomination?)

Phil Brennan – head of Human Resources, illegally set up a false facebook page in an a teachers name and made false posts on that facebook page. Result sacked from Education and started work in NT Health the next day.

Jeff Parker- investigated by Police for threatening a child with a cattle prod, and restraining a girl by taping her to her desk to stop her going to the toilet. Moved from community, but promoted to another principals position six months later. Seems to have resorted to claiming mental health issues contributed to his inappropriate actions.

Ann Tonkin – ran away after secretly using CCTV to record another teacher and students.

Jenny Sherrington seems to have left Milingimbi in a hurry after slapping a new graduate teacher.

Robert Preswell – denied complaints of inappropriate behavior by one of his teachers for years until the teacher was before the courts, when he then up and retired/ran away but not before a big send off by the Minister of Education Eva Lawler, check her facebook page.

James Bryant – targeted for rapid principal advancement, and promoted to principal at Lajamanu, but sacked for inappropriate communication with another principal after a personal relationship soured.

Max Agnew – bullied 16 staff to leave in two years and bullied one female teacher to a nervous breakdown, moved to another school and did it all again before retiring.

Anthony Knights – a young inexperienced teacher targeted for rapid advancement, despite having 132 suspensions in one year and having been reported by other staff for inappropriately putting a bin over a student who was misbehaving, and regularly locking young students out of his classroom. Result promoted to a teaching principals position by his regional manager Mr Laurie Andrew.

Any mature fair minded bloke looking to teach in the NT should do his homework before deciding to take up a position with this mob. You will not like what you see these people do and how they behave towards each other or the students they are supposed to care for. Don’t expect senior staff or staff of Human Resources to support you, they are there to support these people and ensure you are got rid of. Ask yourself, why are blogs like cardfightback, teachers with integrity and bad apples spreading this information?

Why do Senior Public Servants hide the truth?

The USA is wringing it’s hands over the Weinstein affair and now Australia has to come to terms with the fallout from the “Don Burke” affair.

The behaviors of these two men are now causing many to examine the factors that allowed men like this to behave as they have. Many did in fact witness the behaviors of these men, but either did nothing about it or even covered up these men’s behavior.

Some were scared of possible ramifications on themselves, some just didn’t have any empathy for the victim, but it seems others who had the power to intervene hoped it would go away or they even hid the truth for selfish reasons.

Many of us understand that people would be afraid of speaking up, and the risk of being subjected to unjust ramifications for supporting a victim of these kinds of behaviors.

It appears the real people with power to deal with this man were his controllers, his employers and financiers, and it is clear now why they did not deal with him. Money and vicarious liability.

Lets take the Don Burke scenario and transpose it into the Northern Territory Dept of Education and ask who should have spoken up and who should have dealt with him?

Obviously employees should have spoken up and made reports. Principals should have alerted senior staff and senior staff should have acted according to policy, and lastly the relevant Government Minister should have been briefed.

The question has to be asked why would senior staff of NT Dept of Education avoid dealing with a principal who threatened a young child with a cattle prod, restrained another young child by taping her to her desk, and who kicks walls and furniture and yells at transition students to scare them into behaving?

The policies and procedures are clearly defined for them to use, the legislation is clear, why then would they not remove this person from his/her position?

They had the evidence to act, but decided to move the person and then support his claims of innocence despite statements to the contrary from witnesses!

In the cases of Weinstein and Burke the obvious answer is money and the risk of the flow of that money ceasing. In the case of the principal with the cattle prod it seems that money is also the issue, because of the risk of vicarious liability to the Northern Territory government.

This is where it gets interesting, because these are not business men or women protecting their cash flow and investments, these are Public Sector Officers and elected Politicians who are expected to act according to legislation and answer to their voters.

Given the state of politics in the Northern Territory and the debacle of the former CLP government still fresh on voters minds, the moves by the current Labour government to introduce legislation to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption would seem to be a move that the community would support.

The problem is that it seems the current Labour government wants the community to believe it’s motives and intentions, yet on a daily basis they are still hiding from dealing issues like the PFAS pollution in Katherine, the fact that one of it’s ministers was partly responsible for children in his care being denied basic human rights or dealing with people like Jeff Parker, who used a cattle prod to scare a young boy into leaving the school and to go home because he was throwing rocks at the school.

The general public is now alert to the factors that allowed Weinstein and Burke to go unchecked, it won’t be long before the lessons learned from how the behavior of these two men went unchecked is applied to many other areas of our lives.

 

So how does this duty of care apply to the matters reported at Kalkarindji School?

A teacher acted on his responsibility to his students and employer and made his concerns known to his school principal and later to senior staff.

After submitting his initial concerns to the principal, instead of dealing with these reports according to policy, the principal then started a negative narrative with the other teachers involved and also began to criticise this teachers pedagogy and teaching practice, culminating in misleading and false allegations against this teacher and his role in the school being changed without consultation.

The teacher then sought assistance from the Departments Human Resources officers to have these matters investigated.

This caused friction with other staff and resulted in conflict over further incidents of unethical student behavior management, and the teacher being placed on miscellaneous leave for the remainder of the year and charged with allegedly having breached the code of conduct for intervening in a matter between a student and another teacher.

The principal threatened legal action and claimed he had been defamed in the reports made about him, despite statements from two staff members who witnessed the incident with the cattle prod.

The Department of Education conducted an investigation into the allegations made against the Principal and as a result referred the matters to the Police for investigation.

The Police involved explained they did not conduct a criminal investigation against the Principal, because the law stipulated that the victim or his carers must make the complaint and witnesses to the incident could not make the complaints on behalf of the child.

This child’s family were not even aware of the incident until the teacher discussed it with them. Initially they could not believe the reports and thought the teacher was trying to cause trouble in the community.

When other community members came forward and gave statements that they had witnessed the incident, the family then sought assistance from the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Association. The outcome of NAAJA’s involvement is unknown. There are concerns that to avoid any further publicity, the Education Department may have settled the matter quietly with this family.

It is clear to those who witnessed this incident, the reported behavior by this Principal breached his duty of care to the student involved. The further reports of inappropriate behavior to this principal, relating to other teachers inappropriately managing student behaviors, was also a breach of his duty of care because he did not act to ensure his teachers were acting appropriately when managing students behavior.

So who else had responsibility to ensure the staff of this school acted according to their duty of care to their students?

Once written and verbal reports were made to senior staff, all those staff then also became involved and had a duty of care to act on the matters according to policy. How did they respond and what actions did they take?

Confidentiality policy then came into play, and in this instance the Investigators report into these matters has not been released.

Some months later, after pressure from numerous reports in the media, the Department removed the Principal without giving any explanation. In the following year he was promoted to another Principals position and another teacher who had been reported as acting unethically towards students was promoted to a Teaching Principals position at another school.

Despite the fact that other staff had made statements of having witnessed this Principal’s inappropriate behavior towards students, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of Education continued to allege the reports made against this Principal were false and defamatory and alleged the teacher who made these reports had breached the code of conduct again.

Letters to two Chief ministers, two Ministers for Education and numerous letters to two Chief Executive Officers have been unsuccessful in having this Principal removed or the adverse actions against this teacher stopped.

Given the current NT Government’s introduction of Legislation to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption, the decisions and actions of the Public Sector Officers involved in the matters should be closely examined.

Some questions that senior staff of the Northern Territory Department of Education need to answer are:

  1. What did the special investigator Mr. Harris report?
  2. Why does the NT Dept of Education refuse to release the “Harris” report?
  3. What explanation did this Principal provide (about the cattle prod incident) to the investigators?
  4. Is the Dept of Education aware of the existence of a photograph of a young girl taped to her desk to retrain her?
  5. Was the NT Dept of Education aware of complaints from other community organisations relating to this principal?
  6. Why did the Dept of Education remove this principal from that community?
  7. Why did the Dept Of Education send the teacher who reported this principal for a “Medical” examination?
  8. It is understood that the Principal and senior teacher of this school both suffer from diagnosed mental health conditions, did the Dept of Education send the principal or the senior teacher of this school for “medical” examinations?