From Amand Wells
School cancels my sons enrolment after I raise concerns about Wi-Fi
We moved to the Sunshine Coast back in March 2013, primarily so our son, Bodhi, could have a Montessori education, something which was not on offer in Northern NSW. We immediately applied to enrol at a local Montessori school and enjoyed a pre-enrolment process including interviews with teachers, playgroups and class observations that lasted 15 months. Everything was going along very well and we were given every indication that there would be a position for Bodhi at the school.
This all changed last week. During our second interview at the school, I asked what were the school’s plans regarding Wi-Fi at the new campus which is currently under construction. I explained my field of work and that I had concerns about the safety of Wi-Fi in classrooms particularly for younger kids. I also offered to do a short presentation on the subject if they were interested. I was told to write an email the schools business manager which I did (see below)
Thanks for taking the time to read my message.
I am a parent of a two and a half year old son, Bodhi, who is due tobegin at your school this August and Larissa recommended I contact you as I an environmental concern about sending Bodhi the school.
To give you some background, I am studying building biology at the Australian College for Environmental Sciences and have a business, Earthing Oz that conducts educational seminars on how to safely use wireless technology.
Firstly, I understand how convenient wireless technology is, I like to use it myself. Through my work and research I have learnt that it is wise to take a precautionary approach with this technology, especially when it comes to children. There are several countries (not Australia) that are already taking a precautionary approach (in schools) to wireless technology.
From what I am seeing this is an area of growing concern for parents and that by taking a precautionary approach, you could actually set Montessori International College apart from other schools. From a business perspective, it would be a selling point for your school.
I would like the opportunity to talk to you about your plans for the new campus and would also be happy to give you and anyone else interested a short presentation on the subject.
Please let me know a convenient time.
This website has some very good information in the subject http://www.wifi-in-schools-australia.org/
The very best
After receiving no response from the business manager for three days I thought I better follow up. A few hours later I received the following email:
Thank you for your email alerting me to your health concerns, with respect to wireless technology, about sending your child to our College.
In designing the Masterplan for our new site at Forest Glen the College has worked closely with a team of professional consultants to develop a campus espousing the College’s vision and values. To that end the College IT infrastructure is designed to be serviced by a combination of both wired and wireless technology around the entire campus.
The College respects your views in this matter.
Hmmm, I was hoping that a progressive school like this would be open to at least having a conversation about Wi-Fi, but it wasn’t looking good………
………Thirty minutes after receiving the email from the business manager I received the following email as an attached form letter from the schools enrolment officer:
Dear Anand and Runi,
Re: Montessori International College – Application for Enrolment
Thank you for your interest in enrolling your child into Montessori International College.
Bodhi’s application has been reviewed by the enrolments committee . The College appreciates your commitment, however unfortunately we are unable to offer a place for Bodhi.
Once again, we thank you for the time you took with your application. We wish Bodhi every happiness with his future education.
Bodhi had been expelled even before he had begun school!
I asked the school to please do me the courtesy of explaining why Bodhi’s enrolment application had been abruptly terminated and was just sent another form letter with no explanation.
I can only assume that power brokers within the the schools administration did not want a prospective parent asking questions like this. Rather than engage in a dialogue it was easier for them to ditch us.
Our experience raises the following questions:
1/ If a progressive Montessori school is not even willing to talk about the health issues of Wi-Fi in the classroom what other schools would be willing to have this conversation?
2/ Where will we send Bodhi to school given that Wi-Fi is unquestionably used in virtually all Australian educational institutions from kindergartens to Universities?
It looks like we will have to start our own school!