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More friction at Fonthill school

Pelham Street entrance to Glynn A. Green Public School. VOICE PHOTO

Glynn A. Green Public School has seen more than its share of troubles

BY JOHN CHICK
Special to the VOICE

A series of alleged missteps by staff at Glynn A. Green Public School has a Fonthill parent up in arms. Tammy Collins-Rivers tells the Voice the issue came to a head two weeks ago, when her daughter’s photograph was briefly posted on a teacher’s public Twitter account.

“There’s a [social media consent] form I filled out at the beginning of the year,” Collins-Rivers said. “I’ve always said no. She is actually on the list that all the teachers have that her picture is not to be taken. It’s total incompetence.”

However, the mother says her dilemma goes beyond one mistake. In June, Collins-Rivers says she received a telephone call from a temporary employee at the school, saying her daughter was missing. It turned out the girl wasn’t missing at all, but simply hadn’t been seen by the employee.

“It caused this massive panic,” Collins-Rivers said. “One, that’s not something you should never say to a parent, and two, she didn’t get up out of her desk and go put eyes on the child to make sure she was accounted for.”

Collins-Rivers said she immediately went to Glynn A. Green, entering the school through an unlocked door and wandering around the building unquestioned. This, she said, demonstrated that the school’s security protocols weren’t being followed.

The District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) told the Voice that during class hours, all school doors are supposed to be locked.

“During instructional time all our elementary schools have locked doors,” DSBN Chief Communications Officer Kim Yielding said. “Visitors are required to press a buzzer to request entry, they are then asked to sign in at the school office.”

Yielding would not comment directly on Collins-Rivers’ claims.

Voice publisher Dave Burket recalls being surprised nearly a year ago that he was able to enter the school on newspaper business simply by opening a door, and walking through hallways to the main office without being challenged.

“I mentioned it to the receptionist at the time,” said Burket. “It’s disappointing to learn that security may still be lax.”

Compounding matters for the mother is she says her daughter, now in Grade 2, is considered an “at-risk” student, for reasons that the Voice has agreed not to disclose.

“It shocks me that this very relaxed approach is still ever-present.”

Following the incident, Collins-Rivers said she met with Glynn A. Green’s principal, Todd Halliday.

“The day after that happened I went in and talked to the principal about the safe arrival program,” she said, referring to an attendance system that confirms students’ whereabouts with parents if they don’t arrive for morning classes. The day after, however, Collins-Rivers says she tested this—and asserts the school failed.

“The very next day, I deliberately kept my kids at home and I did not get any contact until 10:30,” she said.

Collins-Rivers also met with Halliday after the recent Twitter photo incident. She said he told her that the school would try to do better.

“My response to that was that’s not good enough,” Collins-Rivers said. “What happens to those [deleted Twitter] pictures? Is she uploading it to a cloud? It’s just concerning all around … we’re banning cellphones for high school students, and yet we’re allowing primary students … we’re letting her teacher pull out her personal device and let her be on social media during school hours.”

Halliday told the Voice he could not discuss any information related to individual students or meetings with parents, but defended the school’s reputation.

“I can share that I always ensure that parents have the opportunity to come in and meet with me and the teachers when they have concerns,” the principal said. “I have not had any other parents from our school community relay the same concerns that this parent has made to you.”

Glynn A. Green underwent a large staffing turnover coming into this school year, with more than half a dozen teachers being replaced. The DSBN was mum about the changes in September, but Collins-Rivers claims a school superintendent told her that certain previous teachers had approached the job in a lackadaisical manner.

“I talked to [Area 2 Elementary School Superintendent] Kelly Pisek in June,” Collins-Rivers said. “She shared a lot of information with me, and I actually said, ‘You probably shouldn’t have shared all that to me.’ She came in and realized it was very relaxed.”

Pisek strenuously denies this claim.

“I spoke with [Collins-Rivers] last year about one incident she reported,” Pisek told the Voice. “It was not connected to the teaching staff changes that your newspaper inquired about. Thank you for reaching out for clarification as making that correlation would be inaccurate.”

In January, Glynn A. Green was the site of an infamous bathroom fight video involving male students that ended up on social media. This followed the sudden departure of principal Pam Voth the last fall, an administrator championed by many parents for what they characterized as her unique rapport with students.

Collins-Rivers said the fight incident deepened her concerns about the school, and that her other child, a son in Grade 6, is fearful of bullying. A rundown of a school council meeting from October 2018 provided to the Voice indicated some parents had expressed the need for better supervision to ensure fitness breaks were “free of physical altercations and bullying.”

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