It can’t be swept under the carpet anymore!

It can’t be swept under the carpet anymore!

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I was pulling my children out of the International School of Bydgoszcz.  I mentioned that I would explain the main reasons why I was pulling my daughters out later.  Well guess what? It’s later!  The reason why I did not go into the reasons is because there were things going on behind the scenes and I wanted to make sure those things did or did play out.  Well they did too my surprise!

After my blog post I got this email from a professor at the university the same night….

Good day,
I’m contacting you about your today’s blog post. I work as assistant professor at Kazimierz Wielki University, which is the governing institution for the ISOB. I’ve just been appointed to the ISOB’s supervising committee. We have received severe complaints against the school administrators, and we scheduled a meeting with headmistress Górska and her number two Cerkowiak(who I refer to Diana) for this Monday to discuss this. Our intention is to take the complaints very seriously. I’d be grateful if you decided to share with me the reasons for your dissatisfaction with the school. Any information you will share will be highly appreciated. 
 So when they asked me the question of course I was going to answer!  Since I told them that the email did not have to stay confidential, I am getting to let you read my response as they are the reason why I have chosen to pull my children from the school, like many other parents at that school.
Sir,
 
There are several reasons why I am pulling my children from the school and as well as the blog that I finally felt that I had to do the other day.
 
1. I guess it started half-way through the year when the issue with X teacher happen.  While I want to make it known I am friends with Ms. X who started the situation but she is not the one that mishandled it.  The school administration could have been proactive instead of reactive.  A very simple email going out to the parents stating that they are looking into the situation would have made many parents happy.  Instead the top 2 chose to try to keep it quiet which totally backfired for them.  Yes, the media was called to tell them about the situation but not by Ms. X as the top 2 administrators made it very clear to all the parents that did at the emergency parent meeting that they called.  I know who call the TV station it was 3 Polish families(who have the connections in Poland) to tell them of what was happening at the school.  I know this because they called me to get my input of the situation and if I was going to post it on my blog. While I did not agree with them being called so soon but they did anyways.
 
2. When I pulled my oldest from X classes during this situation(I came got her for the hour of that class), I was asked to go to Ms. Gorska office with Diana(Ms.Cerkowiak) and Anna.  I explained why I was talking my child out.  Not once did Ms. X ever tell me who the the child was in the situation nor did I ask her,  But during the meeting I was told numerous times what that child’s name was by Ms. Gorska and Diana.  If that was my child, I would have very upset if not suing the school for leaking that information.  As professional educators and lawyers they should no better than to give that information out to a parent, let alone a parent who has a blog that very popular here in Poland and been on Polish television!  
 
3. So then that gets me to wonder what other information to tell parents about my kids! Oh, wait they do!  I have talked to the support unit at the NATO base to one of the staff there and at times when the support staff calls Ms. Gorska to set up tours of the school, she talks about other parents and their children to them.  Does she not know who she is taking to at the other end?  The person at the other end has a child at the school too!  Maybe that is OK here in Poland but where I am from the US and in Holland that is not!
 
4. Now that brings me to the emergency parent meeting about the X teacher. The meeting was set for 0800.  Due to a lack of parking at the school by the time I finally found a spot, got my 2 girls settled in their classrooms I finally got to the classroom at 0805 and Ms. Gorska and Diana tried to say the meeting was just about done as they only had 10 minutes for the meeting. I was not the last one to arrive several came after me too.  The 2 of them made it very clear that Ms. X called the TV station and the X teacher could sue her for slander which they repeated several times because Ms. Gorska is a lawyer not a teacher.  They did not have any proof that she did but they just knew it was her.  Once again the families that did call the TV station where in that room and were smiling on how stupid Diana was looking in this whole situation as she did most the talking (ok it was not talking at her end it was yelling at times).  So if they want to talk about slander then Ms. X has a good case for suing because why would Ms. X put her husbands career on the line for something that did not affect her child?  If proven false her husband could have faced major repercussions with him military career.  They said that she got the email about the emergency parent meeting so she had notice to be there.  First, the emails just stated that there is an emergency parent meeting, not what it for or about.  Why would Ms. X attend a meeting at a school that she has already pulled her child out of?  The parents that I talked to had no idea was the meeting was about but we all showed up thinking it was moving the school to a new building not about the X teacher.  Then the meeting got really bad when Diana was asked a question from a father and she stood up out of her chair and pointed to the door and in a loud yelling voice told him, “if you don’t like what we are doing here, here is the door sir, you and your child are more than welcome to walk out of it!”  Not only did she say that once but a few times that meeting.  To me this is about unprofessional as an administrator can get!  Then when I asked her a question she started attacking me!  Now let me make it clear was trying to turn the meeting into a discussion by this point not a yelling match that it had turned into.  I was also the one that suggested at my previous meeting with them in Ms. Gorska office that an email should be sent out to the parents about the situation and the school policy on social media.  Which they did a few hours later and made parents happy.  So you tell me who’s side I am on?  From that meeting on, I lost all respect for Diana and her ability to do her job at the school.  If she treats parents like that, how does she treat the staff at the school?  Oh, wait I know that answer too, just like the parents.
 
5. Over the last few months the Parent, Teacher Council has tried to get a NGO started to help raise funds for the school.  ISOB is not the first International school my children have attended nor will it be the last and all of them have them.  I have also been the President of the Parent Teacher Council at our last school for many years so I do know quite a bit on how they should work.  I was one of the biggest supporters to get this up and running.  I am also the President of the Wives Club for the NATO base the last year and half so once again I have experience in this area.  I am absolute shock that no one from the administration shows up to these meetings!  Anna does show up at a few of them but not the other two that I remember.  The school principal always should be at these meetings.  Why should the President have to have a separate meeting with the principle to tell her what happened at the meeting?  She is a volunteer and is not getting paid, the principle is the one getting paid.  So many things could be fixed or answered much quicker if someone was there to answer those questions at that moment instead having to wait 3 weeks later for minutes from the Principle/President meeting.    Then recently I found out at that all the staff was told to removed their name off the NGO paperwork to get it started.  Why?  We were never told why.  If the school does not support the NGO then why should I?  I am not the only one that feels this way, look at the attendance at the last 2 meetings, no parents showed up except those that hold positions because they have to be there.  I know that school is trying to raise 10,0000 zlotys in funds for a new playground.  I could have raised that in a 1 night auction for the school but why if they school is not supporting the NGO?  I did a charity dinner  auction at NUVO restaurant for the NATO base wives club several months ago and with just 25 families I raised 5,000 zlotys for the local orphanage. With the amount of parents(which many would have been the same families) and the income many of them have, 10,000 zlotys would have been easy to do in just one event!
 
6. The parent picnic that was held a few weeks ago.  First in the email it never stated anywhere that children were not invited.  So I brought my children along with several other parents, after all it is a school function. They even had someone there doing activities with the kids. While there beer was being served, I have no problem with that but if you are going to be ashamed if a picture gets out with a staff member holding a beer while talking to a child, then why put your staff in that situation.  Let alone to be greeted by the administration with a beer in hand!  I did take a picture of a staff member holding a beer talking to my children.  I posted it on Facebook as she is my friend on it.  I made no reference either positive or negative, I posted several pictures from that night on my personal account not my blog account.  A week later this comes out from the school..
 
“FACEBOOK - This issue was raised by the Principal, and she requests that any photographs that were taken at the School BBQ should not be published on Facebook or any other media. Above all, should not be published without the consent of the people in the photo. This rule applies to any other school event. You need permission!”  
 
So this was my reply to the Parent Teacher Council President in regards to this matter…
“Ladies, 

I wanted to address one of the issues brought up by the principle in regards to Facebook(FB) and posting pictures of school functions.
 
I have a strong hunch this is brought up because of a picture I posted on FB on my PERSONAL page not my WEBSITE fan page or my blog, of a teacher holding a beer with children.  I think it should be brought up at the next Parent Council Meeting for several reasons.
 
1. In the picture you could not tell who the teacher was because of the hair covering their face.  Yes they were tagged in the picture because I am friends with them on FB.  If they did not want to recognized all they had to do was untagged themselves in the picture and my own child was in it as well.
 
2. I did not make any comments negative or positive nor did any of my friends.  It was just show the cultural differences that are here in Poland verses many other countries I have lived in.  In the US or in the Netherlands, there would be no way alcoholic beverages would be served at a school function, someone would have either been disciplined or fired.
 
3. When this said teacher asked me to delete the photo off of FB later that week because of the uproar it cause, I did so then shortly. 
 
4.  If the school administration is worried about what the picture would cause then maybe they need to think about the situations they are putting themselves in.  Why serve alcoholic beverages(especially unlimited and VERY limited other drinking options like the 20 small water bottles they had) when you know not only parents and children are going to be present but also guests as well like there was at this event?  I think alcohol at school functions should be address for future events!
 
5.  As for the school telling me or anyone else what photos can and cannot be published. I have every right to publish whatever photo’s especially those that involve my children, where and when ever I want.  The picnic for instance was a public park and was also open to the public(members of the Czech military were invited as well).  I also have a issue with not only FB but other social media as well.  If I choose to put events on my blog that is my right.  I have put several school functions on my blog before and no issues were ever brought up and at times the school even promoted them but now when there is a chance the school might look bad, there is an issue?  How would the school control those Czech people for instance if they posted photographs(which one did who does not have a child at the school)?
Lastly as for having permission to post things.  I am not going to ask the school for permission to post things nor do I think the other 15+ people that I know on FB, Google+, WordPress and such will either.  If the school wants to put out a policy like that then they will also have to follow that policy because they do not get permission from people they post on their website as well.  One example would be the cultural week from a couple of weeks ago.  They have pictures of me doing a demonstration to GO(Kindergarten) and they have pictures of my 17 year old daughter(who is a minor and does not go to school there).  I did not give the school permission to post those pictures. I do not have an issue with them being there but if they have a policy then they will need to follow it as well.
 
I have had 2 different newspaper articles written about me along with very detailed information about my family as well as pictures.  I did not know these articles were being written about me until after they were published as well as them publishing photographs that were on my blog. So yes, you do not always need permission.
 
So I find it hard for the school enforce something like this.  I think the school just needs to not put themselves in these kinds of situations and we would not have issues.
 
So can this be addressed at the next meeting along with what appropriate Polish laws that  cover this issue if this is going to be a school policy. Because I find this very hard to enforce posting pictures that I take with my own children in them!”
 
Once again the school was being reactive not proactive in this situation!  Which this the reason why when I heard that comment that I posted on my blog, at the school ceremony the other day was just shocked.  I am a public figure here in Bydgoszcz, between my blog and an adopted daughter who played last season on the women’s professional volleyball team, KS Palac, I am very aware of the situations I put myself in and yes, I am not surprised if I see a picture on a website, tv or any other media outlet many more. That goes with the job and it goes for the school administration as well.
 
6. A few times this year I have heard, “you are not going to but that on your blog are you?”  If the school is doing only positive things why are they so worried?
 
7. Fire exits in that school are another issue.  In the basement and on the top floor where are the emergency exits?  I have been told that the school is within fire code for the city so do not worry.  But we are going to be worried if it involves my children!  
 
8. Lack of school involvement in the local community.  When I hear what public schools are doing with other schools here in town, I wonder why is our school not participating in some of these events? One of the perks of going to an International school and paying a high tuition is to know your child in probably doing more than the average public school student.  But I am not seeing it here in ISOB.  The only time I hear or read about ISOB students in the community is from activities that the parents get the children involved in.  So could you please explain to me why that is?
 
9. Lack of gym or meeting place.  I think it is crazy that my children have to be bused or walk to another school to do this. I know the school is moving locations but that is the future and I am worrying about the now not later.
 
10. While this is only a rumor that I have heard from other parents but the school funded for the school administration to go on a trip for the IB accreditation to Madrid and to another location. If the school does not have money to pay for a playground or for breakfast for the school sleep-over, why are they paying for 4 of them to go there? I can see 2 but 4, really? I am glad to see the pictures on Facebook of the good time they had shopping and eating in Madrid at the cost of my children’s education!
 
11. Now for the recent teacher’s no longer teaching at the school.  I think it is pretty bad that the parents had to hear from the children that these teachers are being let go from the school instead of the school telling the parents.  Once again the school was reactive not proactive in this situation.  Many parents are finding it very hard to believe the excuses they are giving us for these teachers being released.  I have heard from several staff members that if you disagree with Diana that life is not going be easy.  Not only have I heard that from the staff there but from students and parents too.  So that is one of the reasons why I homeschool my 16 year old!  I find it very hard to believe the reasons for them not coming back next year because these would be valid reasons for not hiring this school year.  Was someone not doing their job last year when doing their contracts?  We all know the reason, so why not say it.
 
12. With those teacher’s leaving that leaves no native English speakers at the school.  This is one of the main reasons why I send my daughter to the school, so if there is not going to be any, then why send them?
 
13. Compared to the international school they came from in Holland, they are about a grade behind.  Not only that compared the US school system they are a grade behind so if they are going to behind they might as well go to a Polish school be on par with the international school but then they will be fluent in Polish and learn more about the Polish culture which they get little of at the school.
 
14. Another reason why I am choosing to move the children is the separation between Polish parent and non-polish parents.  There are meetings with the Polish parents only throughout the year but not for the non-Polish.  I have no idea what is talked about at those meeting but from my standpoint it looks like they are being more engaged in the school then we are.  Once again it is how things look!  So is the school here to server Polish parents or NATO parents?  
 
15.  The appearance of the inside of the school makes me wonder how engaged is the staff.  There are some of the same posters hanging up in the hallways since we started the school a year and half ago made by students.  Some of them are from students who were not even students at the school any longer this entire school year!  By the individual teacher rooms those are changed often but in the general area like the staircase and general hallways they are not.  If simple things like this get overlooked, what else does?
 
 
There are positives in the school!!  The teachers there are AMAZING!!  I could have not asked for better teachers for my girls,  We have had GO, G1A, G2A teachers and I love them!  They always had the best interest of my children in mind.  Given the resources they have at the school they are doing the best that they can.  I have also would like to make it know that I have not had an issue with the PYP coordinator Anna.  Out of the 3 of them, I think she is the only one that parents go to talk to.  In the beginning of the school year I wanted to put my G2 daughter in the Polish for native speakers class because I wanted her to learn Polish.  We are not military so we could be here for many years as well as we are hoping to adopt 2 children here.  At first I was told no because it is for only Polish children but then when I sat down with Anna and I explained to her that my child is getting 7 hours less a week of education compared to a Polish children because she can’t take the 4 hours of Polish and she doesn’t need the 3 hours of ESL classes, then we need to look into reducing my tuition to 4 days instead of 5 days of education so I can afford to pay for private tutors for my daughter in Polish since I can’t take them at school.  Well she said well you do have a point, so let me talk to the Polish teacher and she what she thinks.  We decided to give it a try for a month and then see how it went.  Well needless to say it worked well and being only 8 she translates for me at times because her Polish is getting that good.  Anna was the only one that at the emergency meeting that kept her professionalism during the meeting even when times it got very bad between the parents and the administration.  
 
So what would it take for my children to come back to the school?  I am not sure but first and foremost something needs to happen at the administrative level because not only are they life hard on us parents but on the staff as well just that they do not want to say anything public because they are afraid of the repercussions if they do. 
 
Thank you for your interest and if you have any other further questions please do not hesitate to ask me,……
So you want to know why I pulled my children out the school, there you have it!  But why did I wait until now to post this?  Because this came out today!
IMGP2051
Yes, this was headlined on the front page and then a whole page spread about some of the issues going on in the school. The headline translated means “Genius sentenced to be shoot” (yes welcome to my world and translating Polish!  It always does not translate perfectly!!!) I had heard a rumor that is was coming out today but I wanted to wait and see what it said and it pretty much says and names the same people who I have, along with other issues that are going on in the school.  So it is good to know that I am not the only one feeling the same way.  I know you can’t read this but if you are in the local area it was in today’s Bydgoszcz Express and for those of you who are not, well as soon as I get the online link for the article I will update this page.
So there you have the good, the bad and the ugly!
I would love to hear your honest opinions about this situation and how I handled it!

love kelley
This entry was posted in Bydgoszcz, Family, International Education, Poland, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to It can’t be swept under the carpet anymore!

  1. Angela Kreh says:

    Hi, Kelley!

    I just got DOD permission for the tuition at the Szczecin International School. Now, I have major concerns about enrolling them. Do you know of any similar issues there?

    Thanks!
    Angela

  2. Diana proulx says:

    Thanks Kelly get read, seems the same in every school cover ups, glad to here the parents are getting on that school. The kids need Good Schools…

  3. Pingback: So here is the dust pan! Never a Dull Day in Poland

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