After discussing our experiences with the Waldorf Survivors
support group, we decided we would refuse to pay the school any more money. By now it was obvious that Richard was years
behind academically and Joanna's mental health had taken another turn for the worse. She had begun a course at art college
but her sleeping problems and social phobia had become worse and she had had to give it up. We still felt a lot of her problems
had been triggered by her experiences at the Waldorf school. I had decided that I would write to them and tell them of our decision and explain the reasons, but as it was late
November, I decided to wait until after Christmas.
Two weeks before Christmas I went to their Advent Fayre.
I still felt I had many friends there and Richard wanted to see his old classmates.
The following Saturday we received a letter from
them telling us they were taking immediate court action to recover the arreas. It had been posted the Monday after
seeing us at the Fayre, but perhaps that was coincidence. There was no time even to send a reply by post as the court papers
were to be filed the following Monday and their letter had been sent second class. I e-mailed a reply refusing to pay the
money and explaining my reasons.
For almost three months we heard nothing. They took no
court action and didn't contact us. Then we received a letter. They suggested that the way forward was to seperate our debt
from our feelings about the school. I was tempted to reply that this did not seem a very holistic approach. Actually, I was
very angry. I had told them everything that had happened to all of our children, how Joanna had never recovered from
her experiences, how Richard was unable to cope at state school, and they hadn't said a word about any of it.
I appreciate that from a legal point of view they may not
have wanted to admit any responsibility, but I had expected them say they were sorry to hear how ill Joanna was
and how unhappy Richard was, and perhaps add, but we do not feel the school holds responsibility, but they expressed no concern
They said they would pursue the matter of the debt, in
court if necessary. They did offer what they called mediation. This involved our meeting with a group of people from the school
to discuss our 'feelings'. I did consider this, but after what had happened at our last meeting, which we had also been told
was to discuss our situation, and which ended up being their opportunity to criticise and verbally abuse us, with us being
given little opportunity to talk at all, I really didn't feel able to trust them. I was also very much aware that 'mediation'
had only been offered after we had refused to pay. I didn't want to be hurt any more.
Our next contact with the school was when a parent who had also been a friend rang us. She and
her husband had rang a few times after we left offering us support. She was not aware, though, that Richard had left the state
school he had gone on to because he could not cope with the work there. When she heared this she began trying to persuade
me to send him back to the Waldorf school. She said she would try to negotiate a deal with them about the arreas. I said I
didn't think Richard wanted to go back and I wasn't sure I would be able to trust the school again, but I would think
it over. I didn't ring her back because Richard was adamant that he would never go back and I didn't want to go through all
of that again. She did call me again, though, and I told her our feelings about it.
Not long after this phone call to my friend we received
another letter from the school. This reiterrated their intentions to go to court. They still did not refer to our personal
circumstances but did state that what I had read on the Internet about it being their policy not to interfere with bullying
because children were working through their Karma was not true.
They pointed out their bullying policy, which had in fact
only been in the school handbook for a year previous to our leaving. I felt like pointing out other inaccuracies in the school
handbook, for example parents being offered a leaving interview in which they could express any worries in order to leave
on a positive note. That was never offered to us. However, in the end, I just reiterated our feelings and said the time for
mediation was long past.
We did not hear from them again officially until the following
October. I did, however, meet the Chairman of the school council in town at the beginning of the September. He acted as though
he intensely disliked the situation he was in and was being pushed by other council members, in fact he actually said this.
He asked if we could meet to discuss things. I said I wasn't sure about this as I was still finding any contact with people
from the school intensely painful. He said that I had his number if I changed my mind. I did consider arranging to meet him,
but at this time Joanna was going through a really difficult time. She had become very depressed and we were very worried
We were still considering it a few weeks later when
we received notification from the school that court action was going ahead. I had already told them that if they took us to
court I would file a defence stating that Richard's education had not been up to the standard we had been promised. This was
in fact true. We had been told many times that Waldorf children would have not problems transferring to the state system and
also that by Class 5 (age 11) they would be level with the National Curriculum. But we only really used this defence because
we had no other. Our real reasons for feeling we should not pay them another penny was before us every day.
Our daughter's health was getting worse before our
eyes. Since the age of about 11 new memories of the bullying she had experienced had been surfacing. She had been unable to
stay at any school since the age of 12. She was also unable to make relationships with other children because she was unable
to trust. Since abandoning college at 16 she had stayed home. By now she never went out, rarely got dressed and was sinking
into deep depression. I felt that to pay them a penny would have been further abuse. I felt they owed us compensation for
what they had done to her. So when we got the court summons we filed our defence.
By this time the whole thing was causing our whole
family intense stress. We were dealing with a court action from people whom we had once believed to be friends. We had a 14
year old son out of school. an older son drifting from one job to another because he hadn't had the help he needed, and a
severely depressed daughter. I also suffer with chronic migraine. One evening, as I was getting ready to go out, the
whole thing erupted into a row. I said something that I shouldn't have said to Joanna and she ran upstairs. I was on my way
to the car when, finding I had forgotten something, I came back to the house just in time to discover Joanna trying
to slash her wrists.
"They would not listen, they did not know how,
Perhaps they'll listen now."