Drew, Kerri, Laila-Jayne and Damon Mooney study at home.
Drew, Kerri, Laila-Jayne and Damon Mooney study at home. Allan Reinikka

Home schooling mum in trouble

KERRI Mooney isn't sending her children back to school, despite Education Queensland threatening legal action.

“They sent me a letter saying if I don't contact them within seven days they will get the police onto us,” Ms Mooney said yesterday.

The Gracemere mother of seven said her eldest son Drew was punched in the face three times in 12 months, and it was only a mother's natural instinct to pull her child out of school.

In fact the bullying was so upsetting for her 10-year-old that she decided to home-school her three school-age children two years ago.

“I slowly started to get him back into school before it got too hard for him and I needed to protect my child's safety,” Ms Mooney said.

She said her eldest daughter Laila-Jayne was also being bullied by some of the girls in her class.

Ms Mooney, who was severely bullied as a child herself, was told she had to register through Education Queensland to home-school her children, but she refused.

“They failed their duty of care once when the kids were at school, so I didn't want to take any more risks,” she said.

Kerri said the latest letter she had received from the department threatened to prosecute her if she didn't make contact in seven days.

“They told me they would seek the director-general's consent to prosecute me and, if approved, my case would be handed to the police, who will take steps to prosecute me,” Kerri said.

Yesterday Kerri said she had contacted Gracemere Police about the matter and was waiting on a phone call back.

Robert Osmak, president of the Home Schooling Association in Brisbane, said the bullying crisis in schools was becoming more brutal.

“I have had reports from mums whose kids have had their head smashed against walls, kicks to the groin, kids that have been punched in the nose and come home with black eyes,” Mr Osmak said.

The former teacher of 23 years said most parents who had taken their children out of school because of bullying didn't want to register with Education Queensland after being failed once.

“In cases like this, the education department is failing to protect children from bullying while they are at school,” he said.

“Their bullying policies are clearly not working.”

After writing to previous and current education ministers about the alarming bullying concerns, Mr Osmak was hoping for some serious action.

An Education Queensland spokeswoman said the department, for privacy reasons, could not comment on specific instances where parents had allegedly failed to enrol their children in eligible education programs.

The department had invested more than $28 million in behaviour support programs in 2009/10 including engaging the services of bullying expert Professor Ken Rigby to examine all aspects of bullying and possible solutions, she said.

“All schools are currently reviewing their Responsible Behaviour Plan for students to include specific strategies to address bullying, including cyber bullying.

“Parents are required by law to enrol their children in schooling,” she said.

Home education was a legal option for schooling in Queensland if children were registered with the Home Education Unit of the Department of Education.

“Home Education Unit staff offer educational advice to parents to assist them to develop an appropriate home education program for their children free of charge,” she said.

Parents who home-school children can choose from a range of curriculum materials available around Australia.



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