First, let me offer full disclosure regarding the Paul Beattie/HWDSB affair. I have never met or spoken to him nor do I have first hand knowledge of any of the information regarding his removal from his position as a principal of Mountain School and the circumstances around it. It also appears that Paul Beattie may no longer be employed by the HWDSB.
One thing is clear and undeniable from the outset: Paul Beattie is a leader in education, who is universally respected if not loved by the students and families whose lives he touched. He is also respected by his peers, not only locally but nationally, as a leader in the field of special needs education.
Through his skill, dedication and passion, he was able to create a community in a ramshackle, resource-starved and depleted environment that the HWDSB had intentionally allowed to atrophy on the vine. Parkview did not fit the corporate profile and direction that had emerged under the leadership of Director John Malloy.
The testimonials are many, from students and their families, as to how Parkview Community School had become their second home, a safe place; a place to willingly pursue an education in an environment of respect and free from violence. The “system” had failed these young people all across the Public School Board. It was at Parkview where their unique qualities as individuals were allowed to find their voice. One only needs to speak to Parkview’s most recent graduates, most notably Jordan Williams, to understand what his relationship to Paul Beattie has meant to him and his family. Jordan, whom the “system” had given up on, is now attending Mohawk College and has found his voice as an advocate for students with special needs: a true young leader has emerged under the tutelage of Paul Beattie.
Paul Beattie also inspired members of our community to participate in his vision for Parkview; many donated time and money to assist his efforts and supported the program to establish ongoing community partnerships for the benefit of his students in the absence of significant support by the HWDSB
The battle to save Parkview Community School was ultimately lost. Emotions ran high and they still do. Before the school year ended, John Malloy made a promise to the students of Parkview that their beloved Principal Mr. Beattie would follow them to their new home, Mountain School. John Malloy broke that promise. There have been allegations made in the media that equipment was removed without authorization from Parkview and that hate graffiti of some kind was painted on a wall in the school. Some unknown level of accountability was placed on Paul Beattie’s shoulders and it is not clear, if he was even present at the school when these alleged events took place.
The HWDSB needs to provide our community with the full explanation of these events and what role they may have played in his removal as principal of Mountain School and in Malloy’s broken promise to the students of Parkview. The current Trustees of the HWDSB have failed us at practically every juncture in the process of public consultations on closures, on advocacy for special needs students and lobbying for reform to the flawed funding formula. They now have an opportunity to bring clarity and justice to the Beattie affair for him, his family as well as our young people and community and not continue to bear the collective shame with the Board Administration.
The story of Parkview is a true Hamilton story, born of grit and determination, a story that a man of privilege, like John Malloy, may not have empathy for nor understanding. Should Malloy, whose now infamous statement “the will of the corporate board must be paramount” (a statement that grates like fingernails on a chalkboard), be replaced or move on, it would be my hope that Paul Beattie apply for the job as we would be assured that the interests of our young people, their families and our community would be “paramount.”