Perth school threatens to charge by the minute if parents leave kids waiting at the gate

A private Catholic school will report parents who regularly leave children without supervision at the site before or after school to child protection services, and is threatening to charge them $1 for each minute they are there.

In a newsletter to parents, Divine Mercy College in Yangebup said it would refer parents to the Department for Child Protection if they repeatedly left their children alone for extended periods outside the school gates.

The newsletter said parents could then explain to DCP staff why they had not made reasonable arrangements for their child’s safety in the morning before school.

“It has been made clear in the first few weeks of term that a small number of parents are choosing to consistently either drop their children off extremely early – long before the arrival of staff – and leave their children at school for extended periods after the final bell,” the newsletter said.

If the behaviour continued beyond what was expected in unforeseen circumstances, such as traffic delays or a family emergency, the school said it would charge parents $1 per minute and add the cost to the family’s school fees.

The independent Roman Catholic school was founded in 1996 by current principal Adam Zydek and his wife Irene Zydek, a priest from Malta.

Last year, Mr Zydek controversially stated that the college would rather close than compel staff to get a COVID-19 vaccine and said employees who did not get the jab would be financially supported if they could not go to work.

On Thursday, Mr Zydek told WAtoday he stood by the message in the newsletter, with the measures designed to help protect students from neglect.

He said a small number of parents were repeatedly dropping their children at the school gate at 7 am, an hour and a half before school started, and picking their children up as late as 4.30 pm.

“After numerous communications to a very small number of parents the school has chosen to take this step,” he said.

“Divine Mercy College, unlike most schools, provides supervision 45 minutes after school and 55 minutes before school without charge, to provide safety and care to the students.

“Up until now, for 27 years, we have not charged a single dollar to any parent for the hours of additional supervision we have provided.

“The measure mentioned in the newsletter is intended only to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, who otherwise would be neglected.”

He said his hope was that the extremely small minority of parents who were choosing to use the school’s sense of responsibility for students as an excuse to not make childcare arrangements of their own would take this as an opportunity to be more diligent in arriving on time. The father of one student at the school, who asked not to be identified, said the stance was disappointing and disconcerting given the school espoused “good Catholic values” on its website.

“It is apparent that there may be an underlying lack of empathy for parents struggling to make ends meet during these tough times,” he said.

“No parent wants to ever leave a child waiting however it is apparent that the availability and cost of before and after school care may not be tenable options for all.

“If a private school is so flush with cash that it can afford to pay unvaccinated teachers to stay at home would it not be reasonable to consider an allocation of similar funding to afford some support to struggling families and children.

“It also begs the question what values are they actually teaching our children on a daily basis in the school?”

This story and its contents have been taken from WA Today. You can read the original and first published article by clicking here.

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