The Teachers Are Blowing Their Whistles!

Subtitle

A Queensland contract teacher - depressed, couch-surfing and penniless after 20 years of casual and contract teaching.

 

Queensland contract teacher Jenny (name changed) is "down and out" - unemployed, couch-surfing and penniless. 

She is depressed, but cannot afford the medication she needs for her depression, so she spends a lot of time crying.

How did Jenny's contract teaching career come to this?

 

 

Jenny decided to become a teacher when she was 15.

She began uni in 1981, when she was 23 and pregnant with her first son.

Her second son was born in 1989, the year she graduated with a BA (major History/ extended major English) from UNE, Armidale.

In 1991 her third son was born, she completed a Dip Ed at UNE and she began supply teaching in Armidale and the surrounding area.

In 1993 she completed an Honours 1st class (Gifted and Talented) at UNE.

Between 1993-1995 Jenny had a PhD Scholarship at UNE (Gifted and Talented).

Unfortunately she had to withdraw from the PhD because of ill health.

In 1997 she completed a TESOL (teaching English as a second or other language) Grad Cert at UNE.

 

By this time Jenny had many years of teaching experience - but it was all all casual or temporary work.

Jenny was a single mother to her three boys.

She really needed more security - she needed a permanent teaching job.

She loved working in Special Education, so, to improve her chances of getting a permanent teaching position, Jenny studied for a Master's Degree in Special Education.

And in 2009 Jenny completed a Master of Education in Special Education at USQ.

 

2009

In March 2009, when her youngest boy was 17, Jenny accepted the offer of a position at a North Queensland (Townsville Office) High School (NQSHS) as a Special Education teacher.

Jenny's understanding was that if she completed three years at NQSHS, she would gain permanent employment.

 

So, in March 2009, at the age of 51, she made the decision to leave her 17-year-old son in the care of his 19-year-old brother in Redcliffe and moved into departmental accommodation.

 

Jenny says, "I was a senior teacher due to my many years of contract teaching.

"After working so hard for so many years, I was looking forward to a good wage, and good life, a good future."

 

Jenny had to share departmental accommodation.

At first she shared with students and a female teacher.


In 2009, Jenny found that the NQSHS Special Education students and teacher's aides were "sitting around".

She felt that the Teacher's Aides were not working effectively.

She tried to make them work harder.

 

Jenny struggled to work with the male Special Education teacher.

He was not "Special Education" trained.

Jenny alleges, "from the moment I began this teacher abused our students".

"I complained repeatedly to the Head Of Special Education Services (HOSES) to no avail."

Jenny alleges that this male teacher was responsible for several students with disabilities leaving the school.

 

 

This male teacher also seemed to be being deliberately difficult with Jenny.

He would not "log out" of their shared computer, so Jenny often found herself with no computer access.

 

2010

In 2010 a new HOSES (Head of Special Education Services) arrived.

Jenny got on well with the new HOSES.

She felt that the new HOSES "changed the place around" and that the NQSHS Special Education department really bloomed during 2010.

The students were treated with dignity and respect, "the way it should be".

 

 

Unfortunately, Jenny suffers from chronic pain because of old back injuries.

And Special Education teaching is physically demanding work.

Jenny became ill at the end of March 2010.

She took sick leave and Long Service Leave till it ran out, and returned to work in Term 4 2010.

 

 

Several weeks after Jenny's return to work, a student made a complaint concerning Jenny.

Jenny thought that the truth would come out.

But two teacher's aides and a teacher also allegedly made false statements concerning Jenny.

One teacher's aide later allegedly apologised to Jenny, but said she was too afraid to withdraw her statement.

 

Jenny says that she understood that this this incident had been resolved amicably with the  student, parent, principal and herself.

 

The HOSES allegedly told Jenny not to be concerned about the statements that had been made concerning her.

 

But the statements had been placed on her official records.

 

At the end of 2010 the HOSES retired.

 

Jenny alleges that the HOSES had been put on a Managing Unsatisfactory Performance Process and that she retired to escape from the threat of the MUP.

 

2011 - this was the last year that Jenny had to work at NQSHS before gaining permanency.

 

A new NQSHS principal was appointed.

 

A new Special Education HOSES was also appointed.

 

 

Jenny has a blood condition.

She needs to have blood tests every three weeks.

Her previous HOSES knew that Jenny had to leave the school at lunchtime to have this test.

Sometimes she was delayed, but she had a spare after lunch, so this was not a big problem.

Unfortunately the new HOSES saw things differently.

She allegedly accused Jenny of leaving the school premises and of being neglectful.

 

Also in 2011 Jenny had to share her departmental accommodation with a male teacher aged about 50.

This male teacher was from an entirely  different culture.

 

 

Imagine the stress of this situation - a 50-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman, strangers from very different backgrounds, being forced to share a bathroom, kitchen and living area for one year.

Imagine having that stress on top of the constant, daily stress of teaching.

Nobody should be put in that position.

 

 

One evening this male teacher allegedly became violent and attacked Jenny.

The police were called.

The principal allegedly laughed about the situation the next day.

Jenny was sent to live in a caravan for one week, then she was told to move back into the flat with the male teacher.

 

In September 2011, Jenny allegedly witnessed the male Special Education teacher, in front of two witnesses, try to cause a fight with a very unstable student.

The male teacher kept pushing the boy in the chest, daring the boy to punch him.

Jenny tried to stop the teacher.

She was allegedly deliberately injured by the teacher.

Jenny was very apprehensive that her back would be injured again.

The whole experience was terrifying.

She was left suffering PTSD.


Jenny made a formal complaint about the incident.

After making the formal complaint, Jenny had a meeting with the new principal.

 

 

Jenny alleges that the principal called her "filth", and told her that she did not want her in the school.

Jenny was put on Managing Unsatisfactory Performance.

She became very isolated at work - the other teachers avoided speaking with her.

One or two teachers quietly told her they were very sorry about the way that she was being treated.

Even the Tuck Shop lady told her how sorry she felt for her.

 

The Queensland Teachers Union's only advice to Jenny was to "run with it".

 

On 4 September  2011 Jenny's mother Greta first contacted me.

Greta was very worried about Jenny.

She told me about the unco-operative male Special Needs teacher.

She told me that Jenny's health had suffered for the past 18 months.

She told me that her daughter had now been made to share her departmental accommodation with a man from a very different culture.

 

She told me that Education Queensland Human Resources had sent Jenny a "show cause" - and that Jenny was 14 days away from being sacked.

 

On 5 September 2011 Jenny's mother told me that the QTU wouldn't help Jenny.

 

On 26 September 2011 Jenny's mother told me that Jenny had sent in an appeal. (I would presume that the QTU would have helped her with the appeal.)

 

On 5 October 2011 Jenny's mother told me that Jenny's appeal was going to be heard and that Jenny would be sacked by phone.

 

On 6 October 2011 Jenny's mother told me that the school was "known far and wide for driving teachers to suicide".

I had the impression that Jenny's mother was very worried that Jenny might suicide.

 

On 17 October 2011 Jenny's mother told me that one of the administrators involved in the case was "an evil woman".

 

Jenny was sacked in Term 4 2011.

 

On 30 January 2012 Jenny's mother told me that Jenny was very depressed.

She wondered if Jenny had been sacked because she was over-qualified.

 

On 12 April  2012 Jenny's mother told me that jenny was not well and there was no chance that she would be capable of any type of job.

 

Jenny's mother told me she felt that, as time went on, Jenny had become her own enemy at FNQHS because she was not surviving but she kept on trying and so "they had her down and out easily".

 

(In 2016 Jenny advises any teacher who is threatened with the MUP to resign immediately - and not to try to fight for justice.

There is no hope of justice and the stress of the process will destroy your mental and physical health.)

 

 

That was the last time that Jenny's mother contacted me.

 

During 2012, Jenny tells me that she felt suicidal.

 

In April 2015 Jenny wrote to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs.

They had called for submissions concerning violence against people with a disability.

 

Jenny's submission is number 24.

(Click on Submissions, then scroll down to number 24.)

 

Jenny's submission was published but there was no response.

 

In February 2016, Jenny is on "New-Start".

She still has her registration with the Queensland College of Teachers, but she alleges that Education Queensland Head Office will not give her permission to work.

 

On Thursday 4 February 2016 I spoke with Jenny for the first time.

I did not realise at first that Jenny was the teacher whose mother had contacted me so many times.

Jenny cried many times while we spoke, but she was able to explain her story clearly.

 

Jenny told me she had no money till "next Tuesday".

First she stays with one son, then with another.

She has to ask her sons for money for food.

She has a phone but no access to a computer.

She has a car, but no money for petrol.

She has rented out her house to help pay her mortgage.

The rent and does not cover the mortgage and so Jenny is at risk of losing her house.

She feels depressed, but cannot afford the medication she needs for her depression, so she spends a lot of time crying.

She has four scripts for her pain medication and her depression. 

She cannot afford to have all of the scripts filled.

 

Jenny tells me that the NQSHS principal who allegedly called her "filth" was promoted to the Townsville Regional Office.

 

How to contact the editor of this website.

Jenny told me her story by phone and email in February 2016.

Jenny's mother had also contacted me many times during 2011 and 2012.

I am publishing their story in good faith.

I believe it is true.

I have checked several details in the story with Jenny to make sure that I have understood her clearly.

I have contacted the Queensland Teachers Union and the Townsville Regional Office of Education Queensland to offer them the opportunity to respond to Jenny's allegations.

They did not respond.

If you feel that the story is about you and does not represent your point of view accurately, please contact [email protected]

 

 

 

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