Shock over principal’s suspension

Lynsey McGrath, whose two daughters attended Nollamara
Lynsey McGrath, whose two daughters attended Nollamara

Mr Lockwood has been stood down while allegations that he used unreasonable force to restrain students in two separate incidents in late 2011 and early this year are investigated.

Mrs McGrath’s two stepdaughters attended the school in 2006 and 2007. She said her dealings with Mr Lockwood were excellent even though her younger daughter, who Mrs McGrath said ‘never really enjoyed school’, was difficult to deal with.

‘She hated going, refused to participate she was incredibly stubborn and difficult and she spent a lot of time in time-out.

‘There were many times when Mr Lockwood would come and retrieve her from the classroom.

‘It was pretty concerning for us that the principal was being pulled away from his normal duties to look after a kindergarten/pre-primary child and he had to lead her to the office and while that may seem quite simple, it was not with the way she behaved. It was a nightmare.’

Mrs McGrath said when Mr Lockwood was called to take her daughter out of class he would often spend time sitting with her until she calmed down.

‘On some occasions we would have to be called and he would be chatting to her in the office with us on the phone to try and calm her down.

‘We would receive follow-up letters from the deputy principal about her behaviour and what the level of behaviour was and what their concern was and what the consequences were, for example detention. We were always informed and everything was above board.’

Mrs McGrath said she found it hard to believe that Mr Lockwood would have behaved inappropriately remembering her experiences with him.

‘When I read the story I thought ‘wow that wasn’t my experience with him,’ she said.

‘I’m just disappointed and I think if anything the school is missing out because he is such a great principal.

‘But if there is any substance to these allegations then fair enough, then that’s due process.

‘I’m just a bit heartbroken that should the allegations not stand up then this could tarnish his reputation and it’s really sad when you see a good person who has done an amazing job be brought down with what could be an allegation at the end of day.’

The 30-year-old added her younger daughter had turned her school life around and was thankful to Mr Lockwood for helping to be a part of that.

‘He was always so helpful and all the children loved him… and the parents I knew had great relationships with him. ‘

Deputy director-general of schools David Axworthy said he was disturbed about the commentary in some sections of the media that had ignored what the issue was really about ” the safety of children.

‘Whenever we receive a serious allegation we have a legal and moral duty to investigate it fully for the sake of everyone involved,’ Mr Axworthy said.

‘The last thing we all want is for people to be discouraged from making genuine complaints about possible mistreatment of children.

‘In this case people have been quick to make judgements without the facts and that has not been helpful.’

Former Woorooloo Primary School principal Peter Jakimowiez has taken on the role of caretaker.

For more responses on the Nollamara Primary School situation visit www.inmycommunity. com.au.