Opposition Leader Steven Myers, centre right, and education critic James Aylward met with a group of parents from Miscouche Consolidated school Thursday. They discussed various ongoing issues the parents say they've had with the school's leadership. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
WELLINGTON – An obviously frustrated group of parents met with the Opposition caucus Thursday night in Wellington.
The group, which calls itself the Miscouche Concerned Parents Group', had gathered to discuss their ongoing dissatisfaction with the administration at Miscouche Consolidated school.
There was talk of picketing province house, letter writing campaigns, putting up lawn signs, starting public petitions and other ways to put pressure on government to do something about the situation.
Perhaps the most indicative indication of their anger came when a show of hands was asked for. Nearly every parent in the room, about 25 people, indicated that they would consider pulling their children out of the school rather than let them attend there next year. Some said they'd already done so or intended to do so.
It's a sad state of affairs when parents have to go to that option, said Leon Perry, one of the group's spokespeople.
These people have been dealing with the situation through school and school board channels for years, said Perry, but they've been unable to resolve it.
“We're trying to keep everything respectful – but I mean that level of respect is going to start to diminish here ones these levels of frustrations start getting a little higher,” said Perry.
Most of the parent's concerns revolved around incidences where cases of bullying or other types of confrontation weren't resolved in ways they found appropriate, or where there was a lack of leadership shown. The situations they described were wide-ranging in severity.
The group's concerns where first brought to public attention by the Opposition earlier this month in the Legislature.
Since then, Opposition Leader Steven Myers and education critic James Aylward said they wanted to meet with as many of the parents as possible hear their grievances firsthand.
They listened for two hours Thursday evening and advised the parents to stay united, be respectful in whatever avenue they take to pursue their goal – but to keep up pressure on government.
Aylward said he was surprised by many of the situations recounted by these parents and that some of them have had problems for nearly four years without resolution to their satisfaction.
“Obviously there's a major issue in their school and they want it dealt with,” he said.
“It's unfortunate that we have a minister that just seems to want to run and hide from it and not take responsibility and show leadership.”
When the issue was being debated in the legislature, Education Minister Alan McIsaac said he was aware of the parents' grievances, but said they had to be dealt with via the proper channels.
“This is an issue that has to be handled very properly, there are accusations made, we don’t know whether they are true or not,” said McIsaac at the time.
“We have to go through proper procedures, proper protocols. It’s not a witch hunt or anything, we have to look at the facts before we finalize the whole issue.”
The parents said Thursday night that they want a meeting with McIsaac to discuss their plight; something the minister has so far refused to do.
Perry said, the English Language School Board has also refused to meet with the parents as a group, telling them instead that they will only meet with them individually to discuss specific cases.
The parent's group represents about 50 families, so the school board would be facing the prospect of having that many meetings. That's something the parents say they refuse to do.
“We want one meeting to deal with the whole thing. This business of having 25 or 30 meetings does not make any sense. They know the situations, they have the letters, they have the reports, they have all the information they need,” said Perry.