In my previous post, I quoted part of a damning letter which somebody sent to the parents of the blind school I attended. Since it verifies my contention that the institution was run to make the government look good, I'm publishing the whole document here. Though it's long and rambling, it sheds light on a few of the many corrupt practices which occurred there for decades. I've corrected the mistakes which the O.C.R. program made when I scanned in this document but the writing style is that of the anonymous author.
ATTENTION OF PARENTS OF CHILDREN AT JERICHO HILL SCHOOL:
This is a report written to expose to the Government Authorities and to parents the abhorrent practices which are currently enacted by the Administrative staff of Jerico Hill School. The reasons necessitating this report are not based on personality clashes but result from the sufferings, both physical and mental, which the children experience from an administrative staff, who daily become more lax and indifferent.
The casual observer, or even perhaps the professional investigator, might well conclude after a visit to the school and Resident Buildings, that the above observations are over-passionate and melodramatic. The floors are thoroughly polished, the lawns systematically mown, the children seem responsive and laugh appropriately, and the meals are well-cooked and nourishing.
Were I to go to the Victoria government, infuriated with a petty grievance that one of my Blind boys had been given 50 cents less than the requested amount in his weekly allowance, I would be laughed out of court; rightly. or wrongly. Were they to take such a small issue and demand an explanation from the Administration, the latter would be well equipped with a convincing answer. As Resident Instructors. we are less fortunate in being provided with the answers than the more influential outsider. On one occasion, when the Blind Boys' refrigerator had been removed for some unknown reason to Mrs. Pearson's office, (Mrs. Pearson is in charge of the Laundry) I was told by Mr. Armitage that it was "not for you to be given answers."
A further instance of how the Blind Intermediate and Senior Boys are being deprived occurred recently. For some months they received bread, peanut butter, tea, and other items for an evening snack around 9 p.m. On our return from a camp at Easter we see that Mr. Freemantle, shortly before his trip to Washington, has posted a notice to the effect that there were to be no further evening snacks, owing to such a disgusting mess of old food, which had been found in the dormitories. As Mr. Dustan (who is on the relief schedule) Mr. Jack, and myself personally supervised the evening snack, this 'reason' was unimpressive and certainly not justified. ***Further as Mr. Freemantle had left for Washington and Mr. Bryce ... [8 words were blacked out on the original document.] the Resident Instructors were given no opportunity to discuss the matter further. Incidently the girls , who were deprived of their snack for another reason, have now got their snack re-established. However we were 'appeased' with a vague promise that if we compiled a joint time-table for our evening snack, and submit this to Mr. Freemantle, we would conceivably get our snack back. That was done over a month ago and nothing has come of it, and now we will be fortunate if we get it in September.
Earlier I mentioned that the Blind Boys were deprived of their refrigerator. It is ironic that the excuse for ending the snack on account of alleged food-soiled dormitories is hardly made consistent by the removal of the fridge, the one available place for food which was taken some 2 weeks later. Now the Blind boys buy their own bottles of pop and chips, and consume them indiscriminately in the dormitories.
If explanations were to be given to the kids, at least this would provide some compensation, however inadequate. No explanation of a verbal nature has been given in regard to the snack-stoppage.
In early May, students from Simon-Fraser University wished to receive urine samples from each of the Blind Boys with regard to finding any chemical or genetic associations with their blindness. As the kids were given no formal explanation and no reassurance, their reluctance and embarrassment in giving a urine sample was to be fully appreciated. Several of the boys, whose blindness has been the result of an accident, need never have been involved.
Recently the Bowling Alley has been closed by Mr. Armitage: his involvement here seems strange, as he is the Business Manager. ***No reason was given as to why the Alley has been closed; the boys are further frustrated and one more activity is curtailed. No reason was given for the termination of the daily newspaper. Of course there is no reason as this is an expense paid for by the P.T.A. No reason was given the other day when the kids had to have their feet inspected at the Infirmary. (It was later established that Mr. Freemantle's children had warts on their feet.) No reason was given to all the Intermediate children when it was stipulated that their dormitory doors were to be left open. They resisted this new piece of "legislation" so firmly that the night-aid had no option but to leave the doors open. [I think he meant 'closed.]
At this stage the Reader may (Hopefully) be getting as depressed as the Writer. The task of making any headway seems remote and impossible. There may be a faint understanding of what is being described, a few sympathetic nods, but now there needs to be a complete realization that there is through and through corruption at Jerico Hill School. The argument that this is "just the government and what more can you expect?" is simply a valueless evasion. Nevertheless, this 'reason' is constantly given by the Administration. This merely excuses them for delays and contradictions, which the children suffer. Such delays and contradictions could be eliminated merely with Administrative effort and integrity; instead the kids suffer Administrative laziness and deceit.
Just the other evening I was told by Mr. Bryce not to let my boys wander off the pathways. He was unable to say what the purpose of the acres of available grass was, except there was a rule about it somewhere. Of course they are little more concerned with the rules, which are petty and clearly not meant to be enforceable, than the Resident Instructors. Again it is ironic that they themselves do not respect some of the rules which really matter. Frequently, Mr. Bryce does not appear until 2:30 p.m., when he should be there at 1 p.m. Of course the studies he is doing may be a reason, but this. regular absenteeism only furthers a breakdown in communications.
On May 17th. Mr. Freemantle appears at the sight of the newly-erected trampoline which straddles a pit some three feet apart. In a moment of clear hastiness, he ordered that the pit be filled in and that the boys be made to do it. The pit took the deaf boys and some partially-sighted boys 8 days to dig, and apparently Mr. Bryce had not notified Mr. Freemantle that the trampoline had been set up. Mr. Bryce, being in an embarrassing position, has said that the pit might stay open, but that Mr. Freemantle must not know about it.
***This leads into the next point, that there is acute mistrust among members of the Administration themselves. I have had frequent instances of their passing the blame onto another when a criticism has been levelled at them. Here then are some of the wretched practices to which the children are directly exposed. Most Resident Instructors would readily endorse it, but inevitably some of us have become infected with this widespread corruption. Some of the teachers feel as strongly as the Resident Instructors, but they are not as vulnerable as the latter, I know that Mr. Rose, the excellent and well-qualified Vice principal of the Deaf has encountered numerous frustrations, in the short time that he has been there.
To conclude, these are the questions that we try to give an answer to, in order to console the Resident boys and girls who are so bewildered. The trampoline should not be used, as Mr. Freemantle was angry; the Bowling Alley has been closed because Mr. Armitage has said it must be closed; you must give 'your urine because Mr. Freemantle has said so, and it is wanted for some tests (one blind boy asked me whether this would mean that they were going to have an operation). What is the real reason for the snacks ending? Why has Mrs. Pearson got all the keys to the Tyler House Boys' lockers, when they should be in the hands of the appropriate Instructors? Why are the drawers of the boys gone through regularly when nobody is present or on duty? Why should the children be made to walk on the paths, though there are acres of available grass? WhY is there so much resistance in letting the kids go on regular camps? One of the reasons is that Mr. Bryce complains he's not the bus driver.
WHY was Mr. Walter Lhortsky dismissed? That Was such a piece of white-collar crime that one hardly dares ask the question! It would be a rhetorical question to ask why has pressure been brought to bear on me to quit on my own accord. Other outspoken Instructors have been similarly pressured. Why has there been a vast turnover of Resident staff in the last year? (No knowledge of sign language does not seem to bother the Administration.) Why is there not careful assessment of a Resident Instructor's mentality and moral standards? At Jericho, the unspoken motto is: "Don't rock the boat, we live in splendid isolation (both from Victoria and the public)
In reference again to the deaf and blind boys and girls:
1. No audiograms
2. No vocational counsellor. (Mr. Freemantle has provided no
volunteer professional to cater for this)
3. No P.E. instructor, and Mr Freemantle has made no provision
for a substitute.
4. Inadequacy of Mr. Bryce.
a. fails to turn up for his hours.
b. cannot speak the deaf language efficiently.
C. physically and socially unfit for job.
d. reluctant to drive the bus.
5. No swim club. Stopped in September; this means the end of
the Olympic team.
6. Depriving them of dependable outside help.
I Heith Watson-Swimming.
II P.T.A. were asked to come and assist-Driving.
7. Complete supervision of outside activities-one camp
obtained for the girls with great difficulty.
Just a note regarding available sources of money: Why was the Resident Instructor not in receipt of petty cash, which can be used for items such as glue, Scotch tape, Strings, Labels, and a hundred-and-one other essentials. Each day, the Resident Instructor finds himself obligated to provide for small items, purchased from his own pocket. There are many points not even touched on, but I hope and pray that some light may have been thrown on an atrocious set-up at this school.
Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You may also e-mail me directly if the comment form doesn't work.