Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chameleons Montessori Covers Up ??

A couple of weeks ago we ran a post about two Montessori Schools situated on working wine/fruit farms.

Chameleons Montessori is to be found on Nitida Wine Farm in Durbanville.

As mentioned previously, Tatib received a number of calls from concerned parents whose children had fallen ill following their exposure to spray drift. We also consulted with one of the teachers who had become so ill that she could no longer work. Within a few weeks of stopping work at the school, the teacher's health improved.

Not wishing to leave any stones "unturned" Tatib dug a little deeper and the more we dug, the more we uncovered.

The headmistress of the school, whom we understand is also one of the owners/directors, assured us that they were aware of the problem, that they had identified the fact that spray drift did blow into the school and for that reason all doors and windows were firmly closed during spraying. When we asked for the spray list she became evasive. And so we approached the farm with our request. A couple of weeks went by during which time we received nothing from the farm. And so we made yet another call and were eventually put through to the farms owner. After much pushing we eventually got the spray list.

We approached the school with our concerns that many of the products sprayed by the farm were dangerous to humans, especially children and that even if the children were kept indoors during the spraying, they would still come into contact with the toxic residues when let out to play.

This is when things turned nasty. We started to receive nasty & threatening emails from a so called member of the schools "business and parents committee", a man who had most probably studied law at some stage and who thought that he could therefore shout the odds and threaten us (and the teachers) into silence. We were told that the Department of Health had investigated the matter and that samples had been taken and tests done and that the Dept of Health could find nothing wrong and that The Dept of Health would be issuing a report in this regard. When we asked the school to submit proof of this, they quickly changed their story, stating that no tests has been conducted. A phone call to the Dept of Health confirmed this, and furthermore that the Dept had last heard from the school early in 2009 and that there was no outstanding report, and furthermore the matter was one that should be addressed by the Dept of Agriculture.

The School then told us that an 'independent environmental consultant' had been appointed and that as such our input was no longer needed. When we asked the school to furnish us with the name and contact detail of this consultant, we were told that they had decided not to appoint one. Why the cover up ? Why the lies ?

We have now heard rumors that some of the teachers received letters in which they were threatened with dismissal and lawsuits, should any more parents take their children out of the school due to the spray drift issue. In other words the school has allegedly attempted to slap the teachers with some form of "gagging order".
Why the cover up ? What do they have to hide ?

Clearly the health of the children is not the priority here - but rather the monthly school fees that they bring in.

So much for Montessori values ??

The full story can be found here :

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