More than 50 parents at Walton High School in Launceston have lodged a complaint about a new school for students who have been diagnosed with autism.
Key points:Walton High School is set to become a new high school in LauncesfordThe complaint was lodged by the parents of the students in May2017The school has a new principal who is due to report to a meeting of the school board later this monthParents have been worried about a school that has the potential to become an autism centre for children with severe social difficultiesParents say they have raised concerns about a “carefree atmosphere” and have sought a review of the situationWalton principal John Kettler said on Tuesday that he had no intention of changing the school.
But on Wednesday, the parents lodged a formal complaint to the school’s board, saying he had not acted appropriately as principal, with a copy of the complaint sent to the Education Minister and Education Commissioner, Greg Hunt.
“We are not seeking a review.
We are seeking a reassessment of what the situation is,” Mr Kettlers comments read.”
The parents are not going to be satisfied with a review.”
Mr Kettling’s comments came as he met with parents of some of the affected students at a community meeting at Walton on Wednesday.
He said the new school would be an “autism centre” and said that the school would have an “understanding” of autism and “it will have an understanding of the importance of supporting people with disabilities”.
The new principal has been appointed by the school principal, but has not been formally appointed by Walton and is still awaiting a formal appointment.
Mr Kettleler also told the meeting that there was no evidence that the students’ parents were not being supported by the principal.
“I have no idea where that’s coming from, but that’s a matter for the parents,” Mr Mathers said.
“If you have children who are severely socially disabled and need special education, they have to have their own support.”
Walton is in Launetsford and has a population of around 25,000 students, most of whom have been affected by the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s no evidence to suggest that the parents are being neglected or that there’s not support for the children, particularly at this time,” Mr Coughlan said.
Mr Coughlon said the parents were being told the school was about a 20-minute walk from their home and would have to travel to their home in Launesford for classes.
“They’re being told they’re going to have to walk that distance to get to their children’s school.
They don’t understand the reason for that,” he said.
Parents say it has been a long processThe parents said they had been told the new principal was due to arrive on May 1, and that the new superintendent would report to the board later in the month.
They said the first meeting of Walton’s board on Tuesday had not gone as planned.
“He was a little bit hesitant to do this,” Ms Mather said.
Ms Mather has been working as a full-time carer for children in Launesisford for about seven years.
She said she had to be accompanied to the meeting by two other parents who were also concerned about the situation.
“It’s not the most reassuring thing to go to a school, especially in the middle of a pandemic, but the school did offer to bring two of their children, so we’ve been allowed to sit in the front row,” she said.
Walton will also have a new chair of the board.
Mr Mather also said he had met with Mr Kettleling in June.
“Mr Ketchler was the first person to reach out to us,” Mr Lydon said.
He added that the meeting had been “constructive” and had provided a “very, very positive” impression of the new leadership.
Mr Lydons concerns were echoed by Mr Cuffley, who has been an active member of the Walton board.
“Walton has the capacity to provide an excellent environment for children, it is the right environment to be able to support people with autism,” he told the ABC.
“What I can tell you is that it’s not about one person or one principal, it’s about the whole school.”
Mr Cuffleys concerns were also echoed by another parent, who also spoke to the ABC on condition of anonymity.
“When you have a parent who’s severely social challenged, and you want them to be supported, and the school has not provided that support,” she added.
The parents’ complaint is in relation to a new centre being established at Walton for students with severe and complex social difficulties.
The school is a part of the Launcesfield Community School Corporation, and is set for a $5.6 million upgrade in 2018.
It will be funded through a $15 million grant from the Government.