The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has described the refusals of Education Minister James Merlino and Independent Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed to attend a public meeting of parents with concerns about the proposed super school as arrogant.
The proposed merger of the four public secondary schools into one large school of more than 2700 students as part of the Shepparton Education Plan has caused much angst with students, parents and teachers and Ms Lovell pointed to the proposed meeting as the ideal forum for Mr Merlino to answer questions and lay out his vision for the future of education in Greater Shepparton.
Similarly, Ms Lovell was critical of Ms Sheed, who has so far refused an invitation to attend the meeting, saying she “would prefer to co-ordinate more meetings with the education department in the near future.”
Such a response shows the disdain that Ms Sheed holds for the opinions of her constituents who are concerned about the educational needs of their children.
Ms Lovell was scathing of Mr Merlino’s recent visit to Wanganui Park Secondary College, questioning why the Minister did not arrange a formal meeting with the many parents concerned about the super school during his visit. Mr Merlino was forced however to speak with a few parents who had discovered his visit by chance and attended at the school, yet he still refused to answer any questions.
Staff meeting Mr Merlino during the visit were instructed not to ask him questions about the Shepparton Education Plan, adding weight to concerns that teachers from the four secondary schools involved in the merger have been gagged from voicing their concerns about the plan in public.
Comments attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell:
“The public meeting has been organised by concerned parents of local students and James Merlino must attend the meeting in person so he can understand their anxieties and answer their questions.
“As a strong advocate for the super school, Suzanna Sheed also needs to attend the meeting, although by her own admission she would rather listen to the Labor Government’s spin than speak with her own constituents.
“Ms Sheed’s steadfast refusal to engage with concerned parents confirms that she truly is Daniel Andrews and Labor’s voice in Shepparton rather than Shepparton’s voice in Spring St.
“I challenge Mr Merlino and Ms Sheed to end their arrogant stance on this issue and attend the public meeting in person, so they understand the anxiety their plan is causing and answer directly the questions from concerned members of the community.”
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