Ombudsman critical of the way college handled bullying complaint


The Chief Ombudsman has criticised Sacred Heart College in Auckland over the way it dealt with a bullying complaint.

Peter Boshier said the school had “failed to ensure the student was safe.”

He called the Board of Trustees’ response to the complaint Siobhan Harvey made about the bullying of her son “unreasonable”.

Boshier recommended the Board of Trustees apologise to Harvey for the way the school handled the complaint.

And he called on them to review the school’s harassment and bullying policies.

He was highly critical of an “independent review” into Harvey’s complaint against the school.

The review had an anonymous author, was not signed or dated and did not inform parents or seek their input.

The Board of Trustees accepted the findings of the “independent review” and reported to Harvey they were “comfortable” with the way the college acted.

The ombudsman said it was regrettable that this is the third complaint that the office has dealt with in recent times.

“There appears to have been a failure by the college to deal effectively with this behaviour, with the result that it has taken a toll on the health of a student.”

On Friday evening the new principal of Sacred Heart College, Stephen Dooley, admitted: “the situation in 2016 was not well-handled”.

“We can reassure our school community that new initiatives will continue to be implemented to develop a much stronger and caring college.”

He said a raft of changes had been introduced since 2016, including updated and clearly defined procedures for reporting, documenting and managing student and parent concerns.

He said there was now a network of support structures in place to ensure students felt they were learning in a safe environment.

“A more prominent emphasis is placed on anti-bullying messages, and creating more channels for students to report incidents of concern,” he said.


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News category: New Zealand.

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