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July 01, 2009

Comments

Patricia

Hi Jolanda

I agree with you completely. The problem is it is hard for people who have not had the same experiences to believe that a government agency can act in such a way.

You seem to have been able to obtain a lot of documents under FOI. Did you have much difficulty doing that? I'm finding that I get one lot of documents containing my personal information only to find they refer to other documents i haven't received. Then I have to lodge another application. They never answer within the time limit and so I have to pay for an internal review. They come up with all sorts of excuses to block me obtaining documents such as legal privilege or that it contains someone else's personal information and there is no way to be sure they are being honest. It then ends up in the ADT where they drag the matter over a number of years. I presume they are hoping I will get so tired of the whole process that i will give up and go away. Have you had the same problems?

Reply: Hi Patricia. Yes I have had the same problems and yes I have got a lot of documents but there are a lot more that they have kept from me and it has cost me thousands of dollars.

The SSU have destroyed documents whilst part of an FOI request to produce that was before the ADT. The ADT said that if they do not have the documents that they cannot produce them and that they didn't have the jurisdiction to deal with the issue of the destruction. The SSU have been unable to 'locate' documents that by Law they should keep. The ADT saying that they can do nothing. They have forced me to re-do so many FOI applications due to their failure to abide by the rules and then they have used the fact that I have had to lodge so many applications to call me a 'serial' FOI - er and to refuse me documents. They have spread the documents around so many departments so that they present them as everywhere and then said that it would be an unreasonable diversion of resources to locate them and provide them. When by law they should be together. They are shonky and they are crooks and the worse they treat you and the more that they deny you procedural fairness and natural justice - the more it protects them because they present you as the problem if you continue to attempt to obtain what rightfully you should be entitled to under the FOI Act.

I have tried to have documents Amended under the FOI Act that has ended up at the ADT and despite me providing the evidence to prove what I am saying is true and what they are saying is a lie, the ADT have refused to deal with the application saying it is out side their Jurisdiction. It seems that the issue to do with 'integrity' is left to the persons about whom you complain.

Patricia

I just came across your website today and can't believe how similar your story is to mine in many ways. I can relate to your experiences and confirm the dishonesty, cover-ups and protection of inappropriate behaviour that occurs within the DET. I am a parent that has been fighting the DET on a number of FOI and privacy matters in the ADT for the last 4-5 years and I'm disgusted at the behaviour and underhand tactics used by the DET and their lawyers.

My children attended a selective school in an outer sydney area and I was targeted when I became the treating doctor for a staff member who was assaulted by another teacher at my children's school . Unknown to me at the time, the school wanted my patient to leave because he was outspoken about certain inappropiate staff behaviour and thus they targeted my children as retribution for my professional role in trying to return him to school. In the years following 2004, I was harrassed by staff , my children were discriminated against and my personal information and communications with the school were solicited by the district office -basically spying on me, presumably in the hope of digging up some dirt. They even stooped so low as to solicit my son's personal counselling file from the school counsellor. Records obtained under FOI show that when I spoke to her privately about my son she reported the conversations outside the school to the SED who was collecting my information and made file notes of my conversations. I think all parents should know their child's counselling file may not be protected in a public school. My son's turned up years later in an office unrelated to the school during the time he attended and I am still fighting to have it secured in the State records repository where it should be.
Many DET records were fabricated to record events and behaviour that never happened and to blame me for events at the school, such as reviews of certain faculties, to generate further hatred from school staff. i was labelled a 'serial complainer'. The funny thing was that it only occurred after they were a 'serial offender'. I can believe the DET would do the same to you as me. I also know of others in the same situation. On some occasions I received documents under FOI which contained a copy of a letter sent to me which i received as well as a different version which seems to be the one the Principal told people he had sent. When i tried to amend documents I was told it was up to me to prove the facts. How do you prove something didn't happen when they ignore any evidence given to them? There were even 'unsigned' documents supposedly reporting inappropriate comments I made at a teacher- parent night. Although my husband wrote a Stat declaration as he was present, the DET refused to confirm with the 'typed' author whether he even wrote the document. I have spent a considerable time doing my own investigations just to gather evidence to try and have documents amended. With the last lot, the DET admitted that they were incorrect but because they no longer had any need for them they didn't feel they had to change them. So much for honesty from the government agency setting the standard for our children!!! i will be lodging another application to amend in the ADT this week. Every step with the department has a hurdle. They don't reply within time-limits or completely ignore me. I have to pay extra money to file Internal reviews for unanswered FOI applications and then they ignore those. I must be on that list of people you mention in your blog - I would love to know how you got it. At one time I found documents that the school had notified all its staff that there was a risk assessment on me that found I was a serious threat to the staff's health without my knowledge and without ever explaining what I did to affect anyone's health. You can imagine how offensive that was to me in my position as a local GP. I rang the Minister's office when i found out and was told not to worry , it was just because I 'had a lot of complaints'- complaints that only started after the discrimination against my children. The ridiculous thing was that i was asked to donate my time on 2 occasions to vaccinate staff for free- which I did. A strange thing to ask if I was a risk to their health!! There is so much more over the last 5 years!!! - the failure of their lawyers to produce documents under summons which coincidentally turn up under FOI much later, the perjury of witnesses under oath which is only revealed when other contradictory documents written by the same witnesses are produced under later FOI requests. But the ADT indicates these are not actions that they have any interest in addressing. I bet they would if I did it!! The ongoing defamation of me as a person is the DET's response whenever they are challenged and then they use their own fabricated documents as their only evidence. i too have lots of correspondence with the Ombudsman and ICAC. ICAC told me they refer all complaints back to the DET so they can investigate themself. Well what sort of sense does that make? I've thought about sueing for defamation but who can afford the legal fees to pursue the DET for the years that they would drag it over.
My experience is that the DET will defend itself - no matter what! And if they have to fabricate information about the victim to do it- so be it!! Nothing is below the DET


I know what you are saying about selective schools exams. I have sat on those panels as the parent rep. for my children's school before I became a 'public enemy'. Although i can't really comment on the year 7 exams because all we had was a score and a cut-off and once this is determined then I don't know what the DET does with the list. However, my experience over many years tells me that one would be stupid to believe that anything about the DET is completely honest. But i can tell you that at my school, there did not seem to be anything fair about the entry of children to the selective school in the years 8-11. The children did an entrance exam for each year and we reviewed the marks and their applications to place the students in the order to be offered a place. However, I soon found out this was just for show when it became obvious that students who came last in the exam were among the 1st offered places for the next year and others higher up missed out. Having a close friendship with the Principal was a distinct advantage. One of the staff confirmed that the Principal would just go to the list and pick his favourite from anywhere on the list to make the next offer. i then found out that a staff member's child had been given a school position towards the end of the year 7. Did you know that if children leave a selective school part way through year 7 but past the cut-off of offers to others on the waiting list, then it was possible for Principals to sneak other students , such as teacher's children into the school at the end of year 7. This happened at my school. I was so distressed at being a part of the process that i rang one of the senior officers in the department. he rang me back and admitted that this had happened but they wouldn't do anything because it was not fair to 'punish' the children. What about the more deserving children that missed out? He promised he would ensure it didn't happen again, but to my knowledge he completely ignored my concerns and did nothing. i chose not to continue as the parent rep because i did not want to be part of a corrupt process.

I also approached the organiser of the selective school panel when i heard a principal of another school boasting that he had organised for his daughter to be given a position at our school and was justifying it by saying teachers should be allowed some advantages of the job. I was told it was true and that a complaint had been made to the DET but they chose not to pursue it becausing it might raise questions in the wider community about the fairness of the process.
I too will keep fighting until i clear my name in the DET and expose what i know. I was thinking about starting up a blog to detail my experiences of the last few years and seeing yours has given me the motivation to do that.

i even have knowledge of drug related behaviour of teachers known to DET but which they chose to ignore and are still protecting that staff member- as a parent. its disturbing to know what this government is covering up in its schools. The corruption is endemic in the DET. But that's a story for MY blog- maybe closer to the state election!
Keep up the good work. Good luck.

Reply: Hi Patricia

Sorry to hear that you have had to go through similar experiences. Given my experiences I, like you, know just how corrupt our Education system is and that it is being run by bullies who have no qualms about targeting children to get back at someone. They have spent years setting up the process so that they can never be held to account because there is nowhere to go to get complaints dealt with impartially and fairly. Then the more you complain the more they use it to discredit you. They know that when they target your children you will present distressed and with a story to tell that people will find hard to believe and they also know that onlookers, as what happens with bullies in the playground, will say and do nothing.

I got the 'list' under FOI and really it is just a piece of paper. It is not on letter head, there is no signature on it authorizing it and there is no date. So anybody can just make up a list of people they don't want to deal with and can cut communication with you just like that. The DET doesn't understand the meaning of procedural fairness and natural justice.

I like you will continue to fight. My children no longer need the public system to assist them as they are either out of school or in the non government system but the damage that was done is real and I will spend the rest of my life spreading the word so that these crooks in the DET will know that they might be able to set up the process so that they get away with it but I will do everything in my power to ensure that people know the truth.

What they do to the children is criminal.

Best of luck. If I can be of any help, do not hesitate to ask.

Debra

thats a shame.
DOnt believe that all kids are coached, I have known many people that kids got in to selective, without one day of coaching. Just thought sit the exams and see how you go attitude and got in. Another friends also got a scholarship, again with no coaching or prep. SOme kids just dont handle the pressure of exams and for that they miss out. Its a shame, but thats life, someone has to miss out. I guess how would you feel if some kid got it and your child missed out because he needed to go to the toilet and therefore didnt perform.
life unfair.

Jolanda: It is a shame but I wasn't complaining about my child not getting a Scholarship and I didn't say that she should have been given one she was beaten in the test, that she had issues on the day is her problem - it is a Private school and it is a private test - like I said she isn't the only gifted child and whilst some kids are not coached, today it will be difficult for a child to obtain a place if they are not in a good "high achieving school' and if they haven't had some type of training or coaching. All the students that my kids spoke to and all the parents that I spoke to had children who had been extensively coached.

My children missed out on Selective School placement not because they were not coached but because the applications were manipulated with and test results tampered with and lies presented to the Selection Commitees by the Selective Schools unit on which to base their decisions. Had there been no evidence of bias and manipulation I wouldn't have complained but there is plenty.

Coaching is skewing the intake to Selective Schools regardless of what happened to my kids. They are two different issues. There are very few kids who have done no preparation at all, often they have parents who can help them and many students and parents are embarrassed to say that their kids prepared.

Debra

Jolanda,

I have read your blog with interest and disbelief.

Did you try and do the enterance exam for a Scholarship into nearby private schools.
With the IQ that your children have, they would of been accepted.

Debra

Hi Debra

Yes it is unbelievable isn't it. The DET relies on that and that is why they get away with it. The majority of people just do not want to believe these things happen, they would rather believe that the parent is the one with the problem.

Scholarship exams are the same as the Selective HIgh School exams they are set by ACER and the criteria is the same - highest test marks wins. A full scholarship is given to the child who achieved the highest marks in the test on the day parents were clearly told that. IQ's don't count.

Many students are extensively coached for this test too but to answer your question yes she did sit in Year 4 and she did very well and achieved within the top 10% of scholarship applicants overall but she had never actually done an external test prior to this one and she had no preparation or practice at all as we were naive and we didn't understand. We thought that the test was to identify giftedness and there was no doubt that she was very highly gifted we didn't realise that people practiced and trained. You have to remember of course that she isn't the only gifted child, there are others and they may very well be in better learning environments and as such capable of performing at a higher level. It is also a fact that during the maths exam she was busting to go to the toilet but was too shy to put up her hand up because she didn't know where the toilet was at the private school. In the end she had to put her hand up but she spent nearly the whole maths exam busting and trying to get the courage to put up her hand to go to the toilet. She felt bad because they had just had a break before the maths exam and she didn't go to the toilet because she didn't think she needed it. When she came out she automatically said that her maths test mark was not her best as she couldn't concentrate and she told me what happened and sure enough, although she still did well, she didn't perform to her normal high level in maths and that meant that she achieved a result in the top 10% overall rather than what was hoped and that was the top 1%.

Jolanda

Nina

All these years, all this fuss, just because the department are crap at working out one third of one mark, two thirds are another, and adding the figures together?

Jolnada: So Nina you are happy with a Selective System being unable to add up marks that result in a student being offered or missing out on a place in a Selective School. Would you feel that way if it was your child? Or do you only feel that way because they were my children?

Come of it, you can't possibly be serious!

Jolanda: Dead serious Nina and until all the records are amended to reflect the truth I will not stop and then I am going to write a book to expose them. They cannot treat people like this and expect to get away with it.

The lower scores weren't "manipulated", they were the right scores, with the first scores having been calculated incorrectly - obviously they're bad at maths.

Jolanda: You cannot be serious with what you say and what you are prepared to accept. In any event I have evidence that the lower scores are calculated incorrectly.

As for the very first comment, very good point. As always you have an excuse "but, but, but, but", it's like a whiny child who always has someone else to blame for the budgie getting out of the bird cage.

What a pathetic spectacle.

Jolanda. You are the one who is coming across as pathetic Nina because you should be supporting the children and our right to be treated fairly and to be afforded procedural fairness and natural justice. That you do not says more about you than about me. I am just exercising my rights.

With two of the children now at university, time to give it a rest.

Jolanda. No rest until all the records reflect the truth that is our right under FOI. Nobody can give back to my children what was taken from them and nobody can turn back time but the DET have created an internal lie about my children and family and I will not rest until that situation is rectified as we have been vilified and defamed and we do not deserve it.

Rodney Finkelstein

Seems to work. Not really my problem to start with. Have fun with your case.

Rodney. It doesn't work. The system is grossly unfair and it is corrupted. It is a shame that people have to wait until it impacts them. Today we have people in the DET who are prejuiced against gifted children and parents who speak out. Tomorrow it might be one who dislikes high achieving Asians and when the process is set up to cover up bias, manipulation and misconduct anything can happen.

Rodney Finkelstein

Because its just one case. Why would they tamper with YOUR children's scores and not others? What makes you better/more important than all the other people?

Rodney: Please listen to what you are saying! How can being the targets of bullying and victimisation be seen as meaning you are better/more important than all the other people? What has happened is victimisation/discrimination.

My families case is not the only one. The Selective Schools Unit has an attitude against intellectually gifted students. I know of other families who have been dealt with the same way and the Department knows of these others as they have lodged formal complaints, and the Ministers know and the Ombudsman knows, ICAC knows - and what do they do? NOTHING>>>>> Do you think that is the right way for things to be run?

Rodney Finkelstein

Well, school scores were 100 and 100, and E/M/G scores of 39/40/51

Keep in mind, just because I scored full marks in both school and the test for mathematics, it does not mean I got a 100 score for maths. There's such a thing called scaling. Generally, scaling DOWNgrades your final score. As a result, I ended up with 92. Maybe that's what happened?

Rodney - Why dont you post a copy of your marks letter so that everybody can see what you mean? What is the bet that your componet score wasn't 92 out of 40?????

Oh and why do you continue to ignore what is going on and just focusing on the original marks. I have told you many times that the DET destroyed the answer sheets so that they couldn't be verified. We also asked for certified true and accurate copies of our children's test results and they showed inconsistancies and errors including too many answers to the amount of multiple choice questions.

Why do you NOT want to believe that the system is corrupted? Why would you prefer to believe that I am just some sort of crazy mother and a liar. This way of thiking comes across as young people having no respect for mothers, adults or each other?

Rodney Finkelstein

Assuming the raw marks have not been tampered with and just the final score, then yeah, they're horrible.

Rodney. If the raw marks had not been tampered with then the SSU would not have destroyed the original answer sheets whilst part of an FOI application being put before the Tribunal - they would have just presented the original answer sheets to prove that they did nothing wrong.

So tell me what raw marks did you get? Do you know what raw marks produce what scores? Or are you just guessing?

In any event even if a student who always showed themselves to be high achieving and who was formally identified as highly intellectually gifted and who had spent years being educationally neglected in the comprehensive system, and who had been fighting the DET for appropriate education, choked on the day due to stress, surely if the student produced clear evidence of intellectual giftedness and showed clear evidence of high achievement and showed clear evidence of a recognised need for a more appropriate learning environment, surely, when the student appealed and clearly produced documentary evidence to support their claim, they should given a place especially when the SSU give places to Private School students who are already in optimal learning environments - it is neglect?

So is there absolutely no circumsances that you think that a identified gifted public school student should be eligible for a place in a Selective School if the comprehensive school cannot meet thier needs?

Oh and Rodney, If my children heard of this happening to someone they would be outraged that a system can do this to a child/student. They would feel for the student, be angry at the system and they would have compassion and empathy and want to help. That so many students feel nothing but contempt for these fellow students, students that they do not even know, is really scary and it makes you wonder what sort of education our children are receiving today when nobody cares about what is right and bullies and those who fail in thier duty of care are the ones who are protected.

Rodney Finkelstein

The results of your children are actually quite crappy. It doesn't matter whether they were tampered with or not, they weren't going to make it into a school you wanted them to either way.

Rodney.......... So you are telling me that it doesn't matter if they were tampered with or not that the results are crappy? How can it not matter? If the results are tampered with they are not a true indication?

X

What I am wondering after looking at these (and not being a Maths person) is whether it's possible that the scores are calculated in some sort of strange percentage way (like the UAI) which means that you can't correlate with actual raw marks.

X...............Even though there is clear evidence of errors, inconsistances and issues I cannot prove manipulation of the original test marks as the Leader of the Selective Schools Unit destroyed the original answer sheets so the results cannot be verified.

However, at the end of the day the score that matters is the score awarded to the student by the Selection Commitee as that is the process. In my children 's case the scores awarded by the Selection Commitees were later changed to lower scores by the Leader of the Selective Schools Unit. This person also presented incorrect, misleading and incomplete information to the Appeals panels>......................

Were your kids satisfied with their HSC marks in the end? I thought that your daughters did go to a selective school, just not the one you wanted?

x................ It isn't about whether my kids were satisfied with their HSC mark. They didn't go to school to get a 'HSC' mark. They went to school to learn and to grow. It should have been a place where they were encouraged and protected from harm>...............

In the end it's also whether you get to go into the career that you want.

x...............The DET were never going to succeed in destroying my children or their careers as my children are strong and proud and they come from a very solid and good home and there are many roads that one can take. If you think that making what should of been some of the best years of their young life miserable is not important then what can I say?>.......................

Cassie O

Why didn't you just apply for your children to go to these high schools in later years, such as year 9 or 10? In most cases, I don't think the DET has a say in this, the principal gets the final say.

CASSIE - We tried once. Problem was that because the SSU had put my families name on a 'special list' anything that my family did in relation to Selective Schools Issues, including applying for other years for Selective School placement, was collected and sent to the Leader of the Selective Schools Unit to deal with first. We have documents under FOI that clearly show that our Year 8 Applications for 4 schools were not dealt with by the School or the Principal as are other students. The appeals panel was also headed and run by persons with allegations of bias and discrimination made against them and they were a voting member. The system is really corrupted and unfair.

We shouldn't have needed to go through all this just to get access to more appropriate education for our children.

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