New laws to ban aggressive school parents
School parents who abuse teaching staff or principals can be banned from school grounds for up to 14 days under new legislation being introduced to Parliament on Tuesday by the state government.
The proposed laws would give public and non-government schools the ability to dictate the way aggressive parents or carers can interact with their children’s school. Those caught breaking orders could be fined up to $10,000.
Acting Premier James Merlino said the laws were justified due to a small but concerning cohort of families that abuse their children’s school teachers.
Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino.Credit:Simon Schluter
“It is a minority of instances and we’re talking about exceptional circumstances, but it does happen,” he said.
“We’ve had recent reports of around 30 per cent of principals reporting that they’ve been threatened and 21 per cent have actually been subject to physical abuse.
“This is a really critical issue and most parents would be shocked that we need to respond in this way, but no workplace, no one should be subject to violence, to abuse, to threatening behaviour either on site or on social media.”
Mr Merlino said the government had sought input from teacher unions, legal aid, school and parent associations and human rights organisations in developing the proposal.
“This was a key recommendation of my ministerial taskforce on protective schools, so a recommendation to introduce legislation, and importantly, most states and territories across our country are trying to address this issue,” he said.
The government’s proposal states that schools must ensure people issued with the new orders are able to communicate with the school in some way and make sure their child continues to attend school activities.
Parents will be able to challenge the orders via an internal merits review, and external review at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal if the person doesn’t agree with the outcome.
“There’s procedural fairness built into the legislation, but this was something we needed to introduce. No teacher, no principal, no front office staff at the reception of the school, no one should be subject to threatening or intimidating behaviour” Mr Merlino said.
“Most parents, most schools have wonderful working relationships, and we want to encourage that, but on occasion, it does unfortunately resort to violence to threats to physical abuse, and it’s just not on.”
Andrew Dalgleish of the Victorian Principals Association endorsed the legislation, but also emphasised problem families were a minority of the school community.
He said his association was hearing stories involving stalking, or direct abuse via social media, and that this behaviour affected the school community.
Mr Merlino on Tuesday also announced $148 million to establish the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, a new statutory authority designed to deliver advanced professional learning for high-performing teachers. The Academy is due begin operating next January.
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