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Saturday November 14

Public Concern about Coober Pedy Area School

Well over 100 people attended a public meeting at the United Club on Thursday 12 November to address concerns about Coober Pedy Area School.

One local resident of 40 years said she had never before seen such a meeting.

Notices of the convening of the meeting by Lyn Breuer, Member for Giles, were posted publicly only the morning of the day of the meeting.

Parents, their children, members of the community who don’t have children at the school, parents whose children have left school, and even adults who have no children were there. The DCCP mayor and CEO and several councilors were present.

The meeting was convened and chaired by State MP Lyn Breuer, who said at the outset the she had called the meeting because of many varied concerns expressed to her recently, and that she did not want the meeting to turn into a ‘witchhunt.’ She told the crowd that feedback forms were available. She said she knew people were angry, however she asked that constructive, specific examples be given that she could report to the Minister of the SA Department of Education and Children's Services (DECS) Hon. Jane Lomax-Smith, MP.

David Craig, representing DECS sat with Lyn Breuer at the table to address concerns. He said that he had advised CPAS Principal Sue Lewis not to attend the meeting. School Council Chair Deanna Holdrich had also been told she need not attend. Neither Mrs Lewis nor Mrs Holdrich were present.

Sue Durdin facilitated the handling of the microphone to those who wanted to speak.

Lyn Breuer asked the crowd if there were any objections to a tape recording being made of the meeting. Virtually everyone objected. People said they were afraid of being sued.

A plaque in remembrance of Donna Dunstan, who drowned in the swimming pool in the school grounds earlier this year, was on display.

Most of the concern expressed was that parents who were unhappy with school policy had been unable to get their concerns addressed by the school, either by direct contact or through the School Council.

Issues of detention for lateness, and student suspension, were the main issues that parents had wished to discuss with the school, but parents had tried and tried to no avail, for a number of months, to get a hearing.



Enquiry launched into Coober Pedy school complaints

Adelaide Advertiser  report issued November 14, 2009 12:01am 


EDUCATION Department staff will travel to Coober Pedy next week to address community concerns about policies and alleged incidents at the Far North town's Area School.

About 160 people attended a public meeting on Thursday night to voice their concerns about several issues.

Member for Giles Lyn Breuer, whose electorate includes Coober Pedy, organised the meeting and said the concerns were widespread.

"It's not just a few parents, it's business people, the council, public servants," she said.

Ms Breuer said the issues included the refusal to place a plaque at the school pool in memory of Donna Dunstan, who drowned there this year, the suspension of a group of Year 12 students during exams and the policies on uniform and lateness in arriving at school.

Concerns also were raised about the literacy level at the school and claims Aboriginal students were being disadvantaged.

"I'm really disappointed that it's got to this stage without it being sorted," Ms Breuer said.

Yoka Dunstan, Donna's mother, said the school had denied their request for a memorial plaque at the pool.

The school has agreed to display a memorial plaque elsewhere on the school grounds despite requests from the Dunstan family for it to be installed in the pool area.

"This is a community pool, my daughter was part of this community, she went to school here, she drowned in that pool," Mrs Dunstan said.

"She deserves this. It's a memorial plaque for heavens sake."

Education Department deputy chief executive officer Jan Andrews said senior staff from the department would be sent to the town to "conduct a thorough investigation of the matters raised".

"They will talk with representatives from community groups one on one and have some constructive discussion to find out what's actually happening there," she said.

Ms Andrews asked for community calm while the issues were investigated.

School principal Sue Lewis would not comment yesterday.















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