Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Another assessment of Booroobin

From: The Booroobin Sudbury School / Derek Sheppard <derek.sheppard_at_booroobinschool.com.au>
Date: Sat May 17 06:59:35 2003

Hi Jerry,

I'm sorry.

It's Geoffrey Robertson QC, and yes, he is indeed Australian, and one of the
greatest human rights lawyer advocates in the world. He has been based in
London. I believe he has just been appointed to head a UN human rights
court, but I don't know which one.

I have said for a long time, that we need someone of Robertson calibre to
take a challenge to our High Court to seek and hopefully cement certain
rights with respect to education, for parents, and for the independence of
Schools in Australia. We have no Bill of Rights in Australia, and our
Constitution is vague. Most rights only come through legislation and are
decided by our High Court (the equivalent of your Supreme Court). Currently
there is a more conservative panel of Judges, but I believe that we would
win a number of important rights, ensuring equal access. Most education
legislation in Australia has not been legally challenged.

To date, we have not felt strong enough to warn our government of anything.
But the next letter to our Queensland Premier (like your State Governors,
but the head of the currently just to the left of centre Labor political
party currently holding the balance of power in its own right or in
coalition) which we're drafting now, will raise the stakes somewhat. I
guess this happens when your back is to the wall. We're simply a group of
good people doing what we know is best as Students and for our children and
the children of others. Respect would be nice.

Regards, Derek
The Booroobin Sudbury School - a centre of learning
www.booroobinschool.com.au
Ph +61 07 5499 9944 Fax +61 07 3251 0470
Homestay boarding accommodation
Ph +61 07 5499 9943
----- Original Message -----
From: <JerryAERO_at_aol.com>
To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
Sent: Saturday, May 17, 2003 2:53 PM
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Another assessment of Booroobin

> Dear Derek:
> I think it would only be fair of Booroobin to warn those officials of the
> untimely demise of the British officials who tried to do the same thing to
> Summerhill. Everyone sharpen your pencils!
>
> By the way, I don't think you answered me about whether Jeffrey Robinson,
> Summerhill's brilliant lawyer, is from Australia.
>
> Jerry Mintz
> Alternative Education Resource Organization
> www.educationrevolution.org
> www.idec2003.com
>
>
> In a message dated 5/16/03 7:36:12 PM,
derek.sheppard_at_booroobinschool.com.au
> writes:
>
> << Hi,
>
>
> Our School Meeting recently decided to let our networks of friends know
that
> we had been advised and are being subjected to yet another "assessment".
> This follows inspections and assessments in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001.
There
> were 2 visits in each of those years. The process last time was so inept
and
> drawn out, that it cost us well over $AUD100,000 directly in fees, charges
> and legal costs and further tens of thousands of dollars through write
offs,
> through the forced sale of the School campus. For a School that commenced
in
> 1996, we had worked hard, most of us sacrificing wages for years, to build
up
> our beautiful campus, resources and staffing to satisfy Students' needs.
> There were still residual debts arising out of that last action, but we
have
> managed. The first 6 months of this year were going to be hard enough
> financially. It is our intention to claw our way back to ownership of our
> campus, over the next 2 to 3 years, unless the State government
acknowledges
> responsibility for our losses, as they ought to.
>
>
> Booroobin is only one of about 3 democratic Sudbury model Schools in the
> world, which is either partially or fully government funded.
>
>
> This assessment is being undertaken by the relatively new Non-State
Schools
> Accreditation Board. The Board is an agent and a component of new
> legislation governing non-State Schools in Queensland, passed by
Parliament
> in late 2001. Booroobin objected to elements of the legislation, when it
was
> being considered and after it was tabled. The legislation gives the Board
> lots of rights and few clear responsibilities, and expect all sorts of
> responsibilities of independent Schools and gives few rights (above beyond
> accountability to our Students, members, insurers, ASIC, etc). We
believed
> that we were a guinea pig, a test case, for the way the legislation might
> work, when we last had assessors in 2001. We were told we weren't, but we
> maintain that opinion.
>
>
> The Board advised at the beginning of the last School holidays that it had
> "information that indicated we may not be complying with the accreditation
> criteria". It was therefore issuing a "Notice of Entry" giving authority
for
> assessors to come onto the School premises and do almost anything they
like,
> including asking for any documents and taking copies of them.
>
>
> The Assessors attended the School pn April 30. They were polite, and
asked
> all the same questions that had been asked previously. At their request,
we
> gave them many of the same documents as previously, including those
available
> to the anyone to see and print that are available on our comprehensive web
> site, along with new documents developed in line with our democratic,
ever
> improving, changing and evolving nature. We spoke with the benefit of
more
> experience.
>
>
> We have written requesting details of the "information" and asking for
> natural justice. When the Chairperson responded, the requested
information
> was not supplied and we were simply told to do what had been required of
us.
> A week after the Notice of Entry, Directors agreed that we would write a
> strong letter to the Premier of Queensland, making a plea for some
> understanding, and to leave us to implement our philosophy and principles,
> without so much intrusive intervention. We have invited him to visit.
There
> has only been an interim reply. The School Meeting has decided to
undertake
> a Freedom of Information (FOI) search, as we have done previously, and
this
> has been lodged.
>
>
> We can't afford another impact like the last. We considered refusing the
> Notice of Entry, but decided to allow entry, and give the new Board the
> benefit of the doubt. We realise and are critical that no reasonable
grounds
> have been given for what is essentially a fishing expedition. But we had
no
> money for a legal defence, and didn't want to invest energy in that
> direction. Civil disobedience might have been one avenue.
>
>
> We may need at least moral, and perhaps written support. The School's 5
> Staff and older Students were strong and clear, and spoke individually
from
> their own personal experiences, but as if with one voice, about who we are
> and what we do. The Students told the Assessors simply and clearly that
they
> were capable of doing anything they wanted to. Usually there has been
mixed
> impacts on Students. Not so this time. Those Students who know and
> understand the issue, are brilliantly supportive, working alongside Staff
as
> equals. Something that the assessors and most Schools are unused to. If
the
> assessors can get the message that the democracy of Booroobin is about a
> world view and the big picture for each Student rather than the narrow
view
> of mainstream Schools, then we might get through the assessors' report to
the
> Board, who makes a decision based on what they receive. Our recent 2
weeks
> end of Term holidays were completely consumed getting prepared for this
> assessment, just as in most previous years.
>
>
> Regards, Derek
>
> The Booroobin Sudbury School - a centre of learning
>
> www.booroobinschool.com.au
>
> Ph +61 07 5499 9944 Fax +61 07 3251 0470
>
> Homestay boarding accommodation
>
> Ph +61 07 5499 9943 >>
>
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Received on Sat May 17 2003 - 01:49:29 EDT

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