A charter school told a bullied girl to use the back door to avoid the bullies, the girl says.

Amber Knight, 12, said Middle School West Auckland told her to use the back door after a group of older girls started blocking her at the front door.

"I was being treated like a downgrade of a person," she said.

But the school said it asked Amber to use the back door after receiving a complaint that Amber's mother, Jamie Toia, was "intimidating and threatening" one of the girls at the front door and in the school carpark.

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The school with 191 students in Lincoln Rd, Henderson, is one of two charter schools owned by Alwyn and Karen Poole's Villa Education Trust, which together have 30 per cent of the 1218 students in the country's 10 charter schools.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins introduced a bill this month to abolish partnership (charter) schools, giving them the options of applying to become "special character" state schools or closing down. The bill is open for submissions until April 13.

Middle School West Auckland's main campus at 287-289 Lincoln Rd, which Amber Knight attended. The school also has a Māori bilingual unit in Waipareira Ave. Photo / Greg Bowker
Middle School West Auckland's main campus at 287-289 Lincoln Rd, which Amber Knight attended. The school also has a Māori bilingual unit in Waipareira Ave. Photo / Greg Bowker

Toia said she enrolled Amber at the school in October 2016, towards the end of her Year 7, because of the school's 1:15 teacher/student ratio.

Amber said she enjoyed the new school at first, but as "one of the only pale-coloured kids there" she began to be bullied after about a month. At least 75 per cent of the school's students are required to be Māori, Pasifika, with special education needs and/or from low socio-economic backgrounds.

In the first incident, in late 2016, another girl said "she was going to beat me up at PE [physical education]".

"After my mum came in, she decided to apologise, but she still bullied other people," Amber said.

In the second incident, around May last year, Amber said a "much taller" Year 9 student pushed her to the ground in the playground at lunchtime.

"It was just out of nowhere. She pushed me on top of a Year 7 girl. Me and her both got hurt. She pushed me to the ground and threatened to beat me up," Amber said.

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She said she told the principal Alex Metzger after the lunch period ended.

Middle School West Auckland says it told Amber Knight (right) to use the back door because her mum Jamie Toia (left) was
Middle School West Auckland says it told Amber Knight (right) to use the back door because her mum Jamie Toia (left) was "intimidating and threatening" towards an alleged bully. Photo / Greg Bowker

About two weeks later, she said, the same girl "shoulder-barged" her in a hallway.

"I went to the principal," she said.

"I got really bad anxiety and depression," she said. "I was too scared coming out of my classes before morning tea and lunchtime. That was at the time when I'd hide in the toilets because I didn't want her to sneak up on me."

She said the bullying stopped in term three, but started again in the last term.

"Her and her friends started blocking the door and it was hard for me to get into the school," she said.

"She was like blocking the hallway pulling fingers at my mum and myself. A couple of days after that she kept giving me the look, she kept saying stuff about me. She was constantly staring at me as if she was about to do something and I was really scared."

She asked her mother to walk in with her.

"My mum told [the other girl] to move," Amber said.

But the other girl's parents complained about Toia's behaviour, and Toia was called in to see Metzger.

Middle School West Auckland told Amber Knight (right) to use a back door to
Middle School West Auckland told Amber Knight (right) to use a back door to "make her feel safe coming into school", but says her mum Jamie Toia (left) "intimidated" another girl. Photo / Greg Bowker

On November 26, the school's community liaison manager Tamzin Cook told Toia by email: "I have met with Amber on Thursday at school and talked about how she is doing and how best we can make her feel safe coming into school and while at school. On discussion with Mr Metzger and Mr Levi we feel for the last two weeks if Amber avoided being dropped off in the carpark at front of school (as this is not a designated drop off zone) and she be dropped at Soljan Drive and enter school through the technology door."

Amber said this would have required her "to walk all the way around just to get through the back door".

Instead, Toia withdrew her from the school.

Villa Education Trust chief executive Karen Poole said the school acted after receiving "allegations of intimidating and threatening (including bad language) behaviour of Ms Toia, on more than one occasion, towards a 13-year-old child".

"The school entrance protocols put in place were not about keeping the children apart - they were doing well together at that point. It was about keeping Ms Toia away from our car park and school entrances," she said.

She said the school never received a formal complaint about Amber being bullied.

"Although in this case no formal complaint was received, we feel we took immediate and appropriate steps to discuss the issue with the parents of those involved (as well as the children) and to find a suitable resolution," she said.

"The last formal meeting between the student and counselling staff (November 23) confirmed that the child was happy and that there had been no incidents for a long time."

Poole said Toia "was offered a meeting with a board member in November but she declined to meet at all".