A couple who sent a barrage of emails and letters to their children’s school have been strongly criticised by a High Court judge. This is from the Daily Mail…
The unnamed French couple were described as ‘foolish, overbearing and demanding’ after swamping independent Hall School, Wimbledon, south west London, with complaints that verged on the ridiculous.
In one complaint the mother – who sent most of the communication – said she was unhappy that their six-year-old daughter had been scored an A and not an A+ in a spelling test.
In another, she wrote about her concerns over the ‘unhygienic’ position of her son’s water bottle in the classroom.
The school was left no choice but to ask the parents to take the children out of the school, sparking the legal battle in which the parents claimed a breach of contract.
However, taking the side of the school, judge Jeremy Richardson said their behaviour ‘went well beyond the realms of even the most zealous, some might say pushy, parents’.
Describing the ‘enduring nightmare’ that the school suffered at their hands, Judge Richardson said: ‘The focus of any school should be on the education and welfare of the children who attend it. Of course, parents need to play a full role and take a keen interest in their children. That is right and proper.
‘But equally , parents must – and most do – appreciate that school is a community which needs to be permitted to get on with its principal task of educating children collectively. No school should be bombarded with unwarrantable demands by parents.
‘Teaching and other staff bear a high responsibility in what they do. Looking over their shoulders for fear of litigious parents is one aspect of their professional lives they could well do without.
‘It is also of critical importance that teachers and others of whatever rank feel able to express their views with candour.’
The couple were seeking £50,000 in damages from the school in West London, claiming teachers backtracked on a deal to give their children good references after they were withdrawn from the institution.
But the businessman and his wife, who cannot be identified to protect their two sons and daughter whom the judge described as ‘delightful’, were the ‘authors of their own misfortune’, the judge said.
He said the meddling parents’ case was unseemly and without one shred of believable evidence to support it.
Tensions between the parents and staff worsened when headteacher Tim Hobbs insisted on being present during meetings between them and teachers.
But it was at a subsequent parents’ evening last summer when the couples’ behaviour left staff ‘visibly shaken’.
The couple confronted teachers, kept one member of staff in discussion for 45 minutes and left two senior members of staff extremely upset.
The judge brushed aside the father’s insistence that the meeting had been simply ‘lively’, and described both the mother and father’s conduct as ‘appalling’.
Headteacher Tim Hobbs had then asked for the children to be withdrawn – or they would be expelled – as the relationship between the family and the school had broken down.
He said the children must leave through no fault of their own, with the next term’s fees waived and deposits returned, due to the irretrievable breakdown in trust.
Mr Hobbs agreed to write supportive references for the boys to the head of nearby Donhead School, Chris McGrath, but did not, as was claimed, say he would not disclose information about the parents if asked, as it would have been professionally negligent to have done so.
The judge rejected the couple’s allegation that Mr Hobbs had conspired with Mr McGrath, resulting in the boys being refused a place.
‘There was no cover-up nor conspiracy nor anything else untoward. To suggest Mr Hobbs and Mr McGrath were bare-faced liars was frankly outrageous. They leave this court as honest and honourable men, as they arrived.’
Do schools have enough protection from ‘parents from hell’? Have you ever been confronted by anything like this and, if so, how did you handle it? Please share in the comments below, on Twitter or by using this form (if you want to remain anonymous)