LawSense Dealing With Difficult Parents – NSW State Schools

Navigating Recent Legislative Changes & Challenging Scenarios and Implementing Best Practice

Date20 March 2024
Time9.00am-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney time)
VenueLive Online with recording - recording access expires 20 April 2024
Pricing$440
Prices includes gst.
SectorNSW State Schools
CPDAddresses 7.2 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
NSW: Provides Elective PD towards NESA Registration Requirements
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9.00      LawSense Welcome

9.05      Chairperson’s Introduction

Lila Mularczyk OAM, Education Consultant; former Director, Secondary Education, NSW Department of Education; Immediate Past President, NSW Secondary Principals’ Council

9.10      Psychosocial Hazards and Difficult Parents: Examining the Impacts of Recent Legislative Change on Rights, Obligations and Management of Difficult Parents

Recent Changes in the Law and Interaction with Other Laws

  • Outlining the recent changes to WHS legislation affecting schools including:
    • examining definitions or psychosocial hazard and how this can include parent behaviours
    • examining interactions with other laws, including laws regarding bullying and sexual harassment – what has changed in responding to these issues?
    • understanding obligations to identify reasonably foreseeable psychosocial hazards arising from interaction with parents

Examining Impacts on Schools and Updating Policies Regarding Parents

  • Examining how the new laws affect management by the school of parent interactions
  • Dealing with regulators:
    • understanding the role and current focus of regulators in investigating and enforcing a school’s requirements regarding psycho-social hazards
    • how are regulators responding to complaints from parents?
  • Meeting you obligation to introduce, maintain and review control measures to eliminate (or minimise) psychosocial risks arising from the conduct of parents
  • Updating policies and practices to meet your obligations and expectations regarding psycho-social hazards and parents

John Makris, Partner, Kingston Reid

10.10    Break

10.20    Dealing with Challenging Scenarios: Vexatious Parents, Online Criticism, Breach of DVO’s, Bad Parent Behaviour Towards Other Parents or Students

Examining Obligations and Options – Limiting Communication, Restricting Parents Access, Banning

  • Exploring inappropriate parent behaviours encountered by schools
  • Outlining duty of care and other obligations in dealing with difficult parents
  • Understanding options in responding to parent behaviour, including:
    • restricting or limiting communication with the parent
    • restricting the parent from involvement in school activities
    • banning a parent from a school

Effectively Using Code of Conduct Policies/Charters

  • Optimising Parent Code of Conduct policies to manage parent behaviour and protect your legal position

Managing Particular Scenarios:

Online Criticism

  • Responding to posts or messages online:
    • understanding the legal position of the school and/or staff targeted and potential pitfalls
    • approaching websites, blogs, Google, or Facebook to have material removed. What are your options where material is hosted offshore?
    • staff commencing defamation action – what are a school’s legal obligations and risks?

Conflict Between Parents, Including Breach of DVO’s/AVOs

  • Managing conflict between parents on or outside school grounds
  • Parents breaching Family Court orders or domestic violence related orders
    • understanding the extent of the school’s obligation to be aware of Family Court orders or Domestic Violence Orders, including interim orders
    • examining the extent of your obligations to prevent a parent attending school grounds or school activities to ensure an order is not breached. What sort of practical “work-arounds” can be implemented?

Conflict Between Families, Parent Behaviour Towards Other Students

  • Responding to conflict between families which is affecting student relationships within the school
  • Dealing with parents behaving inappropriately towards or bullying other students outside the school, including on social media

Warring Ex-Spouses, New Partners, and Blended Families

  • Understanding the “rights” of a parent’s new partner and dealing with difficult behaviours

Leighton Hawkes, Principal, McCabes Lawyers

11.20    Break

11.30    Implementing Best Practice Policies, Communications and Record-Keeping to Optimise Complaints Management and Your Legal Position

  • Examining effective polices in receiving, triaging, and escalating parent complaints
  • Managing communications:
  • when to phone, email or meet
    • dealing with requests by parents to record communications or meetings
    • taking and distributing notes of meetings or other interactions
    • managing meetings or communications where the parent is using or wishes to include a lawyer or barrister
  • Understanding the role of and managing the “support person” in meetings or interviews
  • Using “Without Prejudice” communications to try and negotiate an outcome without prejudicing your legal position
  • Complaints to the Ombudsman – navigating your rights and obligations and how you should respond
  • Implementing effective record keeping protecting your legal position – understanding what you should record and who should be keeping notes of records

Christa Lenard, Partner, Kingston Reid

12.25    Chairperson’s Conclusion

12.30    Event Close

Presenters / panelists include:

With over 20 years’ experience working in regulatory workplace health and safety, dealing with regulators, and providing advice and representation on numerous issues, John is regarded as a notable senior leader in the industry. John has been recognised as a leading lawyer in his field for many years running, including recognition as a Leading individual for Workplace Health And Safety in The Legal 500, 2023 and a listing in Chambers Asia-Pacific 2023 for Health & Safety.
Leighton Hawkes commenced his career in claims management and other technical roles with a major Australian insurance, working on claims for the NSW Treasury Managed Fund (TMF). Leighton has acted for the NSW Department of Education for a significant number of years. Presently he acts in a diverse range of matters, including claims arising from public liability, property damage to NSW schools, historical sexual abuse, discrimination (employee and disability), and Coronial enquiries.
Christa Lenard is a workplace relations and employment lawyer with extensive experience in advising public sector departments and agencies at both Commonwealth and state level, as well as large and medium private sector companies.

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