First posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 09:19 AM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 09:30 AM EDT
SAULT STE. MARIE, ONT. – A local school board won’t explain why it banned the mother of an allegedly bullied child from school grounds unless she has written permission.
Mario Turco, the Algoma District School Board’s director of education, said the board “absolutely” had reason to issue the June 22 letter which informed Kathy Lindsay she needed to get prior written permission to visit Queen Elizabeth Public School, or face trespassing charges.
“Why would we send a letter out if there was no reason?” Turco said Tuesday.
When pressed, Turco would only say the letter was in response to a letter from Lindsay’s lawyer.
“I don’t think I need to discuss it in public. (Lindsay) understands it. It’s between the lawyers now,” Turco said.
Lindsay said she isn’t backing down.
She said her daughter, Hailey, is being tormented on a daily basis by a group of classmates.
“This is a little girl who has been in a living hell for the last year,” Lindsay said.
Lindsay said all she did was walk her daughter to class and make a number of phone calls to try to stop the bullying.
“They’re going to say I called often — and yes, I did,” Lindsay said. “I called often because it’s not taken seriously enough and that was my way of trying to get something done about it.”
She said her lawyer’s letter asked the board to address her concerns.
In its reply, the board said the school’s principal has already done so.
“The school and the board will not continue to discuss this matter with you and we ask that you cease contacting the school in this regard,” the letter from Toronto law firm Hicks Morley said, adding the board has become aware of “safety concerns for the children” at Queen Elizabeth and warning Lindsay she’ll face trespassing charges if she doesn’t get written permission before going to her children’s school.
Lindsay said she believes the board issued the warning because, late in the school year, she walked her daughter to class in a bid to protect her from bullying.
She said she was later accused of lingering in the hallway.
Lindsay described the charge as laughable.
“I was there at the school all the time volunteering and helping. I helped with track and field. I’m not a threat in any way, shape or form,” she said.
The dispute led Lindsay and her husband to pull both their children from school and she said she is considering moving schools or homeschooling.
Turco said the letter is a rare move on the board’s part.
In his 22 years with the board office, “We’ve had to talk to parents, but we’ve never had to issue a letter,” Turco said.
“I think the public knows that we encourage parents, we value parents’ involvement in schools, we look to them as partners, so if we had to take that kind of action, surely people would understand that there must be another side to this story,” Turco said