Bad Apple Bullies

Bad Apple Bully school principals and departmental officers can bully Australian teachers into ill health - and out of work!

A message for Coober Pedy Area School principal Sue Burtenshaw and all South Australian public servants.

Another public servant has asked me to pass on her thoughts and words of support to Sue Burtenshaw -

"Coober Pedy is a town that does not take kindly to the standards of the"outside world" and will attack anyone who either knowingly or unknowingly brings lawlessness into the light. 

I think the only way that it will change is if public servants refuse to go to Coober Pedy.

Eventually they will have to do a clean out, because Coober Pedy will NEVER change otherwise - and more good and hard working public servants will be put in the grinder.
To any public servant who is considering working in Coober Pedy .... JUST DON'T.

I would be very grateful if you could pass on this email to Sue and wish her all the very best in her struggle."


Editor's Note : Norton Anti-Virus advised me that my website was attacked when I posted this message. It is the first time (to my knowledge) that the website has been attacked in this manner.

Coober Pedy Area School : a 'tough gig' for principals.

Sue Burtenshaw joined Coober Pedy Area School in 2008 on a five-year tenure, after the school had employed seven principals in nine years.

Ms Burtenshaw began cracking down on students, reinforcing the school's long-lapsed uniform policy and suspending pupils for lateness.

Parent Tim Nagy said his children, aged 9, 11, 13 and 14, often came home from school upset and had been suspended many times for being late.

"We've really reached a crisis point over here, my children have missed most of this year," he said.

In late 2009, angry Coober Pedy parents called public meetings seeking the resignation of Sue Burtenshaw.

They successfully demanded an official Government inquiry into Ms Burtenshaw's conduct.


Ms Burtenshaw had to call police to the school to remove some parents who had been "threatening the staff" and "refusing to calm down".


Despite the tension, there are other parents who say the school is a better place under Ms Burtenshaw.

Tina Scott, whose nine-year-old daughter Cartier attends the school, said that she had no problems with the principal.

"I think the issues are minimal compared to the good she's done," she said.

Coober Pedy deputy mayor Mike Maylin said the school's issues had definitely split the community.

"A lot of people are happy with the school and a lot of people are not. We can't please everyone," he said.


In January 2010, South Australian Education Department chief executive Chris Robinson said a review of the allegations had "identified a number of issues that will require further inquiry".

"This work will be undertaken as a matter of priority during term one," Mr Robinson said.

"The principal of the school has agreed to step aside during this process."


Mitcham Primary School principal Steve Adams served as interim principal at Coober Pedy in Term 2 this year.

Mr Adams said it was a "tough gig", with some of the community demonstrating "little respect for education".


On 11 July 2010 the Department of Education and Children's Services announced that Ms Burtenshaw would no longer be principal, as the outcome of a lengthy investigation into conflict at the school.

DECS chief executive Chris Robinson said it was necessary to bring in a new principal.

"This ... (is not) a disciplinary measure," he said.

"Rather, I have concluded that it is in the best interests of the students, staff, community and Ms Burtenshaw that a new principal be appointed to Coober Pedy Area School."

Sue Burtenshaw is expected to appeal against the Education Department's decision to remove her from the school.


Coober Pedy Area School, South Australia : assistant principal Kym Taylor alleges the school is in 'a state of chaos' following the removal of principal Sue Burtenshaw.

16 August 2010 :  Coober Pedy Area School assistant principal Kym Taylor has spoken out, saying Coober Pedy Area School is in a "state of chaos" following the departure of principal Sue Burtenshaw, who joined the school in 2008 after the school had employed seven principals in nine years.

Ms Burtenshaw was removed from her role in 2010 following complaints over her tough stance on students and treatment of parents.

Now suspensions have almost tripled and truancy has doubled.

Almost half the school's 230 pupils are not attending on a regular basis.

"The school is in a state of chaos with kids not coming to school, children not staying in class and running in and out of classrooms, and swearing at teachers," Ms Taylor said.

"We had policies in place, but because the policies were implemented by Sue and some people didn't like (them), there is now nothing in place."

Opposition education spokesman David Pisoni said he found it "extraordinary" that a principal who was able to improve attendance, reduce suspensions and improve NAPLAN results was removed from the school in the "interest of the students".


Kym Taylor, whistleblowing assistant principal of Coober Pedy Area School, is escorted from the school.

Kym Taylor, assistant principal of Coober Pedy Area School, was escorted from the school on 19 August 2010 and placed on paid leave while the Education Department investigates misconduct allegations by the school governing council.

It is the second time this year that a principal has been removed, after former head Sue Burtenshaw left following an inquiry into her tough stance on students and treatment of parents.

In The Advertiser this week, Ms Taylor spoke out about Ms Burtenshaw's sacking, saying the school was in "chaos" under interim principals.

According to the letter sent by Ms Taylor, suspensions had almost tripled and student absenteeism had doubled under the new leadership of the school.

Education Minister Jay Weatherill confirmed he had received a letter from Ms Taylor "some time ago" regarding an increase in truancy and suspensions at the school - but he had been advised that the numbers were "inaccurate".


"I was already concerned that actions by the assistant principal in making inaccurate public comments about the behaviour of students at the school had undermined the efforts of the school community to move forward in the best interests of students," Education Department chief executive Chris Robinson said.


Opposition education spokesman David Pisoni is calling on the Education Department to "release to the public any reports relating to the incidences" so that a balanced decision could be made.


Sue Burtenshaw, Ex-principal of Coober Pedy Area School, weeps as she describes her time in isolation in Coober Pedy.

26 July 2011  :  Sacked Coober Pedy principal Sue Burtenshaw wept yesterday from the Industrial Court witness box when describing her time in isolation since leaving the school.

"I want to return to Coober Pedy Area School," she said.

"Despite all the things I've read in folders and all the evidence I've heard, I'm still very passionate about the school and focused on returning."

She could not hold back tears when asked by her council to recollect the time passed since she was asked to step down from the school.

"I've continued to read books ... but when your passion is on the school ground ... it's just awful," she said.

"My (principal's) office is packed up in boxes in my house."

Ms Burtenshaw still lives in Coober Pedy.


Coober Pedy Area School : Teacher's Appeal Board concludes that the decision to permanently transfer principal Sue Burtenshaw was unfair.

6 October 2011 : In 2010, former Department of Education and Children's Services chief executive Chris Robinson stood Coober Pedy Area School Principal Sue Burtenshaw  down as principal pending further investigations.
Five months later Ms Burtenshaw was formally reprimanded.

It then was deemed "untenable" for her to remain in the role.

Following the department's rulings, the Teacher's Appeal Board deliberated on two appeals.

On 6 October 2011, they dismissed the first appeal that Ms Burtenshaw was stood down, but concluded the decision to permanently transfer her from the school was unfair.

The board said Ms Burtenshaw's "lateness policy", which caused controversy among some school parents, indicated some inflexibility and could have been implemented and reviewed more effectively.

They also concluded she could have handled the implementation of a new preschool policy more diplomatically and that she acted towards some teachers in a way regarded as "overbearing and inflexible".

But they said she was not provided with adequate support and provided a number of attributes to the school.

"Ms Burtenshaw came across as a passionate and dedicated person who brought a number of positive attributes to the position of principal of CPAS," they said.

"We have no doubt that she was extremely competent in a number of areas and that given some appropriate support and guidance and the removal of unhelpful interference by others, her tenure as principal of CPAS would have been successful and uneventful."


Parents pay Sue Burtenshaw compensation.

Sue Burtenshaw, former principal of Coober Pedy Area School, has been awarded the maximum compensation in the Adelaide Magistrates Court today following a defamation case.

A group of five parents and students used Facebook to defame Ms Burtenshaw in 2010 by posting comments on a Facebook page.

Today Magistrate Bill Morris ordered one of the defendents, Yvonne Knueppel, pay Ms Burtenshaw $40,000, the maximum possible in the Magistrates Court.

The other four defendants settled out of court.



Former Coober Pedy Area School principal Sue Burtenshaw wins $40,000 over defamation, Tessa Akerman, Adelaide Now, 21 December 2012 :