Principals play cop in homeschool crackdown
SUSPICIOUS school principals are monitoring families and banishing kids from class if they catch parents at home.
A single mother of six with a volunteer job, and a mother of five whose husband works night shifts as a paediatric nurse, are among families told to keep their kids at home.
Only vulnerable children, or those of essential workers with jobs outside the home, have been allowed to attend school this term.
From Monday in Queensland, children in Prep and Year 1, and senior students in Years 11 and 12, can go back to class.
But as students from Years 2 to 10 continue homeschooling for at least another fortnight, The Sunday Mail can reveal some principals have been cracking down on kids showing up to class - like a truancy check in reverse.
One primary school principal on Brisbane's southside wrote to a shift worker to "clarify your work situation''.
"Several people including the children have mentioned that you work from 5pm to midnight, and not during the day,'' the principal wrote.
A single mother of six, who volunteers for a community kindergarten in Brisbane's south, said she was left in tears outside the school office when the principal demanded she take her four school-aged children home last week.
The principal then emailed her that "your children have not been identified as a vulnerable children (sic) so can only attend school if both parents must continue to attend their workplace for essential business''.
The principal relented after receiving an employment letter from the community kindy - but told the mother that "it's disappointing you've provided a letter for a volunteer position''.
The principal of another southside school told parents that "I will now have to start ringing families to check on their 'essential' worker status'', after 18.5 per cent of students showed up to school one week.
Another principal, from Bayview State School complained to parents late last month that 30 per cent of kids were attending school - up from 18 per cent the week before.
"I do not intend to stand as a security guard at the front gate and request proof, however I encourage you to really make a choice based on the health and safety of all, not just convenience,'' he wrote in a missive to parents.
Another principal told a mum on maternity leave she could not send her four older children to primary school, even though her husband needed to sleep was during the day so he could work as a frontline paediatric nurse at night.
"I don't want my husband to make a mistake at work after he's had three hours' sleep because he's had to listen to four kids fight over a pen,'' the mother told The Sunday Mail.
The mother said she called the office of Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace, who arranged for her kids to go back to school.
Federal Member for Bowman Andrew Laming, who chairs the federal parliamentary committee on education, said all children should be allowed back to class.
"We have seen schools cajoling and guilt-tripping, driven more by administrators than teachers who are effectively doing two jobs at once and want to get children back where they belong in the classroom,'' he said.
Ms Grace said principals were not criminals "as he (Dr Laming) makes out - neither are teachers''.
"We have always said that if parents showed compliance and schools showed compassion, we could get through together,'' she said.
An Education Queensland spokesman said: "We fully support our principals who are doing an outstanding job during this global health pandemic."
Originally published as Principals play cop in homeschool crackdown