Sunday, April 17, 2016

Waldorf Academy Intimidates Parents into Silence about Sexual Predator-Teacher

"The teacher, 41-year-old Ryan McCombe, was charged by Toronto police in January and February for alleged assaults in 2008 and 2012 that occurred outside of the school and involved a 13-year-old girl and then a 16-year-old girl."

A Toronto private school that was warned about the alleged "inappropriate behaviour" of a teacher more than a year before he was charged with sex assaults has asked parents to sign a code of conduct that some say is silencing them, CBC News has learned.
The Waldorf Academy's "Parent/Guardian Code of Conduct," obtained by CBC News, asks signees to "disengage from communication with fellow parents that place blame" and "refrain from 'third party talk', i.e., the passing of information, hearsay and speculation."
"We feel scared to speak," said one parent who asked not to be named. "It's like [the school] is saying, 'be silent and accept whatever we say.'"
Several Waldorf parents expressed concern about the code of conduct but did not want to speak about it on the record.
"Conduct deemed inappropriate," the letter reads, "will be dealt with immediately to resolve and repair the situation. If there is no willingness or effort by the parent to work constructively toward a resolution, the School reserves the right to terminate or decline re-enrollment." 
The code of conduct was issued in a March 16 letter to parents obtained by CBC News that came after the teacher was charged earlier this year with sexual assault, sexual interference, sexual exploitation and possessing, making and accessing child pornography.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Well this sure sounds familiar. I think Highland Hall Waldorf School in California has a similar document that was issued when they had similar problems.

 (Click to Enlarge the images above)

Back to our story...
The teacher, 41-year-old Ryan McCombe, was charged by Toronto police in January and February for alleged assaults in 2008 and 2012 that occurred outside of the school and involved a 13-year-old girl and then a 16-year-old girl.
But it wasn't the first school administrators had heard of alleged inappropriate behavior involving McCombe.
The school received a letter in September 2014 from an "unregulated psychotherapist" that described an alleged relationship between McCombe and one of the therapist's clients, CBC News has learned.
In a letter to parents, obtained by CBC News, the school says the "anonymous, historical, unsubstantiated claim" gave it "no legal grounds to terminate Mr. McCombe's employment."
The school did not notify police and the teacher continued working at the school up until his arrest in January.
 "We were shocked. It's like they were hiding it," 
a parent, who requested anonymity, told CBC News.
When asked by CBC News why the police were not notified about the letter in 2014, the school said it was advised by legal counsel at the time that the police would not be able to address the matter.

Related Stories:
On Friday, the Waldorf Academy, near Bathurst St. and Davenport Rd., removed a staff biography for a man named Ryan McCombe from their website. The private school also removed a video of man of that name at a 2014 school barbecue from their Facebook page.
A Waldorf Academy staff member declined to comment when the Star contacted the school about the removed pages.
A Toronto private school teacher who was charged last month with sex offences is now facing more charges.
Ryan McCombe, 41, was arrested on Feb. 1 and charged with six offences, including two counts of sexual assault, one count of sexual exploitation and one count of making child pornography.
The charges relate to incidents involving a then-16-year-old girl that allegedly took place between September 2012 and October 2014 at a private residence near Yonge St. and Lawrence Ave.
On Jan. 7, McCombe was charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference in connection with the alleged 2008 sexual assault of a then-13-year-old girl.
Police say McCombe, who worked at the Waldorf Academy near Bathurst St. and Davenport Rd., was tutoring the 13-year-old complainant when the incident allegedly occurred.

A Toronto private school was warned by a therapist about alleged inappropriate behaviour by one of its teachers nearly two years before he was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault.
The Waldorf Academy felt it could not legally suspend or dismiss the teacher after he denied the allegations and the Children’s Aid Society declined to investigate because the complainant was more than 16 years old. Instead, according to a confidential review obtained by The Globe and Mail, administrators decided to let the teacher continue to teach elementary-school children and to monitor his behaviour informally.
Mr. McCombe, 41, has been suspended indefinitely without pay, the school said. The incident, however, raises questions about whether the school should have allowed him to work closely with children, and even accompany them on an overnight camping trip, after receiving the warning. 
Might have something to do with hiding problems and silencing dissent.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Erase your Life!

Gerard MacIntosh admitted to several bizarre incidents of professional misconduct while teaching Grade 8 students at Vancouver Waldorf School in North Van during the 2013-14 year, according to a Teacher Regulation Branch discipline agreement. The branch’s disclosure of the deal didn’t identify the school, however, The Province confirmed the incidents with school administrators took place there.
In one incident, according to the agreement, MacIntosh admitted he badly upset a girl who had been diagnosed with autism when she asked him for an eraser in class.
He held out a pocket knife in front of a group of students and told the girl, “Here, use this to erase your life.”

A former North Vancouver elementary school teacher and principal was suspended this week after he told one student to erase her life with a pocket knife and told others he had dressed for Halloween as a pedophile.  Gerard MacIntosh taught at an independent school where he made the comments during the 2013-14 year, according to a discipline agreement released this week by the province's Teacher Regulation Branch.MacIntosh had been teaching grade eight students in early 2014, when a student asked him for an eraser, according to the agreement.  In front of other students, MacIntosh held out a pocket knife and told the student – who had been diagnosed with autism - “here, use this to erase your life,” according to the agreement.  In a separate incident, a student asked the teacher if he was going to wear a costume at a Halloween party for grade seven and eight pupils.  “MacIntosh replied that he was already in costume, as he was dressed up as a pedophile,” read the agreement.  MacIntosh was also reprimanded for a third incident that happened when his grade eight students were to visit a grade 11 class. According to the agreement, he told the elder pupils he would bet money that a particular grade eight student would "say something stupid like ‘how do you get laid in Grade 9’?” - or words to that effect.  The school placed MacIntosh on paid leave in May.  He told some parents he was on leave because of some of his students.  And he told some of his students that he was on leave because of the pupil to whom he had held out the pocket knife, according to the agreement.
MacIntosh was teaching at the Vancouver Waldorf School at the time the incidents happened, confirmed Victoria Restrepo, a business manager for the Vancouver Waldorf School.  "We immediately began an internal investigation and reported it to the BC Teacher Regulation Branch Review Board,” said Restrepo in a written statement. "Our first priority is, and always will be, the health and safety of the children at our school."
Apparently the health and safety of the children wasn't the school's priority as there were three separate incidents with this person.

Another paper covers the story here:
And here:

Here's Zoom Info placing him at Vancouver Waldorf School.
And AWSNA's financial report lists him in several places.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pasadena Waldorf School... having a melt-down?

Is Pasadena Waldorf School... having a melt-down?  Chasing families off their campus... lying to newspapers?  Attached are the most recent reviews from parents about Pasadena Waldorf school.  I've seen Waldorf administrators stuffing the ballot box but I've never seen so many parent reviews all on the same day.  This must have been right after another school crisis.

Posted July 15, 2015 - a parent
Most teachers are great and do care about the children. There have been a few instances, a recent one included, where the teacher was horrible and families were leaving because of this and it took a long time to let that teacher go.
Posted July 15, 2015 - a parent
Many of the children are very well-behaved. Spoiled but generally pretty good. There have been issues where some kids were bullies and they weren't dealt with because their parents contribute too much money. Some kids have left the school because of being bullied.
Posted July 15, 2015 - a parent
I feel that many of the students are from very wealthy families and are very spoiled. They go on all kinds of trips and have lots of stuff. Giving back is not as emphasized as I feel from such a batch of privileged students and families.
Posted July 15, 2015 - a parent (4 stars)
We are leaving this school after 5 years because it has become financially prohibitive. The tuition is $19,000/year with a 5% increase each year in part to fund a high school that has maybe 15 kids in each grade. Leaving with a sad heart because I love the arts incorporated into the schooling BUT there is not much science and there are definitely hardly any boys at the school. The vibe feels very old school where the traditional family is the norm. Dad works, mom is stay at home. There is also a rich hippie/trust fund vibe because at this point, only the wealthy can afford to go here. Seriously, as I'm rushing off to work so I can pay the tuition, adults are hanging around, drinking coffee, knitting, not working. Sadly, that wasn't Steiner's idea. His school was first created for factory workers' children. So if you're very wealthy and money isn't an issue, this is a very pleasant school for your children.
Posted June 13, 2015 - a community member
An orthodox Waldorf school that is rigid and dogmatic in its adherence to anthroposophy. They hold children very tightly with a "spare the rod spoil the child" mentality towards discipline. There's only one acceptable way to learn and if that's not a fit for your child watch out. Even if it is a fit with your child, he/she will suffer through witnessing other children getting shamed and humiliated by teachers. An especially bad place for boys. Many of the older grades have 3:1 or greater ratios of girls to boys. The recently graduated eighth grade had only 4 boys out of 17 students in the class.
Posted May 22, 2015 - a community member
This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad they yell at the kids
Posted May 07, 2015 - a parent
We feel robbed of time and money by Pasadena Waldorf School. The volunteer demands are punishing and they seem like a distraction. The request for money is constant yet their financial transparency is non-existent. The parents are treated with no respect. There is so much mind control, time control and manipulation used at that school. The most frightening thing of all is that PWS has NO WRITTEN POLICY ON BULLYING. Beware!
Posted April 23, 2015 - a parent
Here's what I wish I had known before I enrolled my children at PWS: as soon as you start feeling nervous or scared to speak out about a concern, as soon as a teacher starts to "wonder" about your child, as soon as you begin to feel slightly uncomfortable -- it's time to get out. It's hard to believe this is an actual school that purports to take care of children. It is an ideology taking care of itself. Be careful.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pasadena Waldorf School Bullies Yuge Family

First some background from the article:

ALTADENA >> The June 1 deadline came and went Monday for the Yuge sisters, who are still working to pack up nearly a century’s worth of family history from a historic area home.
That home is the gardener’s cottage where the Yuge family has lived on the former Scripps estate in Altadena since the 1920s, when the late patriarch Takeo Yuge became a caretaker for the property.
The cottage, built by Takeo’s uncle Hanjiro, was intended for the family to stay in as long as they liked, but when the Pasadena Waldorf School purchased the Scripps estate in 1986, a new agreement was drafted: Approximately six months after the last parent dies, the property must be returned to the school.

So, in essence, Pasadena Waldorf School is choosing to foreclose on a family that has lived on the property all their lives... You might ask why?

Although an attorney sent a letter on behalf of Pasadena Waldorf stating that on June 1, officials could have all their belongings removed and placed in storage at the family’s expense, trustee William Birney said it was unlikely the school would take any “dramatic” action just yet.
“The fact that they haven’t moved by the time they said they were going to is potentially harming the school and its construction attempts,” said Birney, who is also chair of the PWS Board of Directors. “But, no trucks are going to be pulled up by Pasadena Waldorf forcing the clearing out of the property. Not at this point.” 

Ah... so there is a construction project that needs to get started right away.  Let's find out more, shall we?
Administrators said they needed access to the property beginning June 1 to start staging construction to rebuild two classrooms that burned down in an electrical fire in 2014. In an interview last week, Puls said the school had not yet finalized design plans or applied for a building permit from the county. 
OK... they need the property to rebuild two buildings that were burned down in an electrical fire... and apparently the two buildings cannot be rebuilt on that site.  No explanation as to why.  No permit has been applied for... that will take weeks... and the new buildings are still in the design stages.  So... what's the rush one might reasonably ask?
Although school officials are not sure what will be done with the 1-acre parcel containing the home and remnants of the nursery and gardens Takeo tended, a conceptual master site plan was presented to the Yuge sisters earlier this year, which included a parking lot and a long driveway. Officials have since said it was merely “conceptual” and was created without assessing the property.
So wait... do they need to kick these people out to replace classrooms or for a driveway?  Somebody is not being honest here...
The sisters had doubts when the school initially refused a request to nominate the 86-year-old Torrey pine for Altadena’s inaugural tree of the year contest but Waldorf administrator Douglas Garrett said they later agreed to nominate the tree, therefore making a public commitment to preserve it. Altadena Heritage presented the award to Waldorf officials Sunday at its annual Golden Poppy Awards.
So, after being criticized for not saving a historical tree (imagine how other Waldorf Schools would feel about getting that kind of reputation), they receive an award for being shamed into doing the right thing.
In a letter sent to the PWS community, Garret said “Our hope is that this award will help build a bridge with the Yuges that can calm the waters and allow for a smooth transition as they leave our campus.
What a guy!

But let's get back to whether the property is necessary for new classrooms - or are they planning a driveway that needs to run through this property immediately.  This is what the Yuge sisters saw at the master plan meeting.  This is a 30 YEAR MASTER PLAN by the way. 

It appears the 30 year master plan has a driveway running alongside the Yugo property.  I am told the classrooms that burned down are shown in their original locations on the master plan.  Did Pasadena Waldorf School representatives suddenly decide to move those two classrooms to the Yuge property and throw out the 30 year master plan?  Or did they misrepresent their intentions to the newspaper covering this story?  I see models in the picture above.  One doesn't spend that kind of money on a master plan and suddenly change it to relocate two classrooms. 

Let's have a look at the current school map from the parent handbook:

The Yuge home is at the bottom left of this map

The classrooms we are talking about are shown in black opposite the parking area - just as in the master plan.  It appears the school isn't being honest when it says it needs to relocate them to the Yuge property.  I invite comments from the school.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pasadena Waldorf School Recovery Group

I have removed the previous content of this page.  I'm not afraid of Pasadena Waldorf School and they can expect to get a LOT more scrutiny from me from now on.  I've got a few stories of my own to tell about that school and some of the people there.  Let those miscreants try to bully me... if they dare to. 

Meanwhile, as long as we have a spot here... let's see some recent reviews of Pasadena Waldorf School:

Posted May 07, 2015
- a parent

We feel robbed of time and money by Pasadena Waldorf School. The volunteer demands are punishing and they seem like a distraction. The request for money is constant yet their financial transparency is non-existent. The parents are treated with no respect. There is so much mind control, time control and manipulation used at that school. The most frightening thing of all is that PWS has NO WRITTEN POLICY ON BULLYING. Beware!

Posted April 23, 2015
- a parent

Here's what I wish I had known before I enrolled my children at PWS: as soon as you start feeling nervous or scared to speak out about a concern, as soon as a teacher starts to "wonder" about your child, as soon as you begin to feel slightly uncomfortable -- it's time to get out. It's hard to believe this is an actual school that purports to take care of children. It is an ideology taking care of itself. Be careful.

Posted April 02, 2014
- a parent
I was highly disappointed with this school. I was seduced by the beautiful grounds healthy vegan 
snacks and gorgeous gift shop. But beyond the exterior I experienced an extraordinary rigidity. My 
daughter was told not to do yoga (unhealthy - do Steiner exercises instead) not to do family bed 
(encourages too much dependence - she was a toddler ) and to play with silk scarves instead of 
write letters or read (frowned upon before the age of 7). I also felt the practice of having only one 
class teacher for all the grades was fundamentally limiting. Most importantly I felt our teacher didn't 
have the skills to cope with either conflict resolution or bullying (which happened). I ended up taking 
my daughter out of the school.

  • 14 friends
  • 28 reviews
Great morals you are showing your Altadena neighbors.  Breaking promises made by a founder of Altadena that allowed a Japanese family who we're put in camps to live there and now having them removed.


Way to go once respected neighborhood school.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Waldorf Schools and Bishop Nicholas

Waldorf classrooms have two very special visitors in December.  Bishop Nicholas and  his old pal, "Rupert" arrive to give out gifts and more.  Make no mistake, one is here to praise the "good" children while the other is here to embarrass the "bad" children.  First let's see who we are talking about when we say Bishop Nicholas and "Rupert".  Our good friends at Wikipedia have provided us with a list of many "companions" for Bishop/Saint Nicholas.

In Waldorf schools we have "Rupert" who, from my experience is a combination of elements from all of these.

Krampus"Krampus is a terrifying figure found in parts of Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia," "As a part of a tradition, when a child receives a gift from St. Nicolas he is given a golden branch to represent his good deeds throughout the year; however, if the child has misbehaved, Krampus will take the gifts for himself and leave only a silver branch to represent the child's bad acts."

"Belsnickel is a companion of Saint Nicholas in the Palatinate (Pfalz), Germany." "He is a rather scary creature who visits children at Christmas time and delivers socks or shoes full of candy, but if the children were not good, they will find coal and/or switches in their stockings instead."

Black Pete (Zwarte Piet)
"In Belgium and the Netherlands, children are told that Zwarte Piet leaves gifts in the children's shoes. Presents are said to be distributed by Saint Nicholas' aide Zwarte Piet; who enters the house through the chimney, which also explains his black face and hands, but not his colorful attire."

Knecht Ruprect
"Knecht Ruprecht sometimes carrying a long staff and a bag of ashes, and wore little bells on his clothes." "Ruprecht was a common name for the devil in Germany, and Grimm states that 'Robin fellow is the same home-sprite whom we in Germany call Knecht Ruprecht and exhibit to children at Christmas...'"  "Knecht Ruprecht first appears in written sources in the 17th century, as a figure in a Nuremberg Christmas procession." "According to some stories, Ruprecht began as a farmhand; in others, he is a wild foundling whom St. Nicholas raises from childhood.  Ruprecht sometimes walks with a limp, because of a childhood injury. Often, his black clothes and dirty face are attributed to the soot he collects as he goes down chimneys."

As it turns out, I have intimate experience with Bishop Nicholas and this Rupert character. 
Back in my Waldorf years, I was the Bishop Nicholas character for a neighboring Waldorf school (The City School in Los Angeles).  I saw first-hand how this tradition was carried out in a modern Waldorf school.  Rupert, or Black Peter is portrayed as a sub-human, black, devilish, wild, savage, unwashed and intended to frighten the children.  It has nothing to do with chimneys and neither does Bishop Nicholas in this tradition. He is typically dressed as a bishop, robes, religious garb, carrying a book with the children's names in it. If they have been good, they get a gold piece (foil wrapped candy or treat). If they have been bad, they may get a piece of coal.  

Bishop Nicholas is the all-knowing (knows when you've been bad or good) type of Saint Nick who carries a large book - a balance sheet of sorts - to express to each child that he is aware of their behavior throughout the year and that they need to continue being good or improve.

"Rupert" is intended to represent a sub-human and always depicted as dark skinned, disruptive and frightening.  His role is to annoy and frighten the children who Waldorf teachers have singled out for punishment.  He is always subservient to and held in control by Bishop Nicholas.  As Bishop Nicholas reads out each child's name, Rupert recommends a lump of coal for the child.  Bishop Nicholas wisely points out the good aspects of the child's character and rewards the child.

When I was Bishop Nicholas, I often provided my own gifts for each and every one of the children.  The Waldorf teachers at that school regularly singled out children who they expected me to embarrass by giving them a lump of coal instead of a golden walnut.  I regularly ignored their wishes. 

At the City School, one year, my regular Rupert couldn't make it so they enlisted the help of a parent.  The parent was dark skinned and the teachers there had no reservations about explaining that this was one reason why she was chosen.  That punctuated the inherent racism in what seemed like a slightly cruel but relatively harmless, albeit outdated Waldorf tradition.  Obviously, that was the last year I did this.

The juxtaposition of the pure Bishop Nicholas with the dirty Rupert is what Waldorf is trying to achieve here.  The Bishop is supposed to be gentle and quiet (like "good" students) - while Rupert is wild and rambunctious (like "bad" students).  It isn't Rupert's fault - he was raised in a barn after all... by the good Bishop who, with patience and gentle care, is guiding Rupert toward a better life... Not too much unlike how Waldorf teachers take in children who have been "raised in a barn" so to speak before their parents found Waldorf.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Karma and the Steiner Waldorf Teacher - Responses

Mark Hayes asked Jeremy Smith about the role of Karma in Waldorf.  

Mark responded to Jeremy here: Steiner's Mirror

To me, Jeremy's answer couldn't have been more clear if he spelled it out in Eurythmy movements.

"In all the teacher meetings I have attended over the years, I have never heard a teacher say anything that would seem to indicate that they know what a child’s past life had been or how its karma would unfold in the future. "

I guess he never read - "Faculty Meetings" - but wait... I think he realized what a goofy statement he made above.  He corrects himself by saying it was OK for Steiner to do this.

"Indeed, unless you are a great initiate or at least a clairvoyant of prodigious insight, how could anyone make such a statement without inviting derision? "

OK, so clairvoyants can do this without "inviting derision".

"If ever anything like this has happened in a Steiner school, then I condemn it as utterly inappropriate and wrong."

Funny - that completely agrees with the critics - except for the denial that it happens.

"What I have heard, on the other hand, is some really insightful discussion in child study sessions, in which teachers will focus on a particular child and share their particular experiences and observations made during lessons."

Of course.  I'll bet nobody lit a candle in the meeting you were in.

"Nor do I recognise the allegation that Steiner teachers ignore incidents of bullying because of some misplaced sense that, if a child is being bullied, it must be something to do with its karma."

Well, it only sounds "misplaced" when it isn't Steiner HIMSELF saying it.  Again, Faculty Meetings would be a good place to start learning about this.

"In the schools I know about, bullying is dealt with quickly and effectively and any incidents of bullying are notified to all the teachers so that they can keep an eye open in case of any further outbreaks."

Sigh.  I thought you said you read my blog Jeremy.  When I search "Bullying" I get 8 pages of parent complaints expressing exactly the opposite.  Who is going to put an end to this?  Certainly NOT the people who are in denial about its existence.  That would be YOU apparently.

"If there is a Steiner teacher anywhere in the world who believes that they should not intervene in cases of bullying, they are not only very wrong but also completely misunderstand the concept of karma. In my old school any such idiocy would have led straight to a disciplinary hearing for that teacher."

This sound, to critics, like a lot of lip-service.  Bullying is far too prevalent in Waldorf schools - and if it isn't teachers letting students "work it out" ("it" being their karma) then WHY is it prevalent in Waldorf?  The idea of a "disciplinary hearing" for a teacher who follows Steiner's instructions is comical.  I'll try to work that into my parody website.

"All of the above will seem like nonsense and delusion to some,"

Not just to critics, but to the parents of children (and the children themselves) who have been bullied for decades at the hands of Waldorf teachers.  As long as nobody is taking the complaints seriously, nobody is going to get an image of "warmth" when they hear the words "Waldorf classroom".

"In the UK at least, you have plenty of choice of schools and if the ideas outlined here don’t appeal to you, then please put your child in a different system."

Of course the ideas appeal to parents.  Whey you MAKE SHIT UP, it's easy to make it sound appealing.  If you were truthful about what Waldorf schools really do, parents would be climbing over themselves to put their child in a different system.  Why is "Waldorf" synonymous with "dishonesty"?  It isn't MY fault, Jeremy.

"Therefore, although I’m not clairvoyant, I can predict with complete confidence that Richard Dawkins’ next life will be as an Islamic fundamentalist; that Dan Dugan will be general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America; and that Pete Karaiskos will come back as a kindly little old lady whose characteristic phrases will be: “If you can’t say something nice, then it’s better to say nothing at all” and “Oh well, mustn’t grumble.” "

It isn't that far from my current characteristic phrase, which is "If you can't say something TRUTHFUL, then it's better to say nothing at all".

It's kinda like "Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt".