Hamilton students rally around former Parkview principal

Students rally in support of former Parkview principal Paul Beattie; Hamilton, September 15, 2014

A group of students at Hamilton’s Mountain Secondary School staged a protest today, demanding the board reinstate their old principal. Paul Beattie was supposed to move to the school when Parkview Secondary was closed this summer.

If you haven’t been following this story from the beginning, it’s a little complicated. Parkview — a special needs school — was shut down after months of protest. But the board promised students would be accommodated at Mountain Secondary with some special conditions. One of those was that Principal Paul Beattie would move with them.

Dozens of former Parkview Secondary students gathered outside their new school, demanding their old principal be brought back.

Jordan Williams, student: “Students are feeling upset, they’re feeling betrayed. When you’re giving these students false hopes that they’re going to have their principal here for comfort and he’s not here, you know, it’s just a shame.”

In the final days of August, Beattie was replaced. Director of Education, John Malloy, has been quoted as saying the decision is linked to an investigation into graffiti that was left on the walls of Parkview when it closed. They say some of it was degrading and homophobic and that items also went missing from the school.

Mountain Secondary’s superintendent Michael Prendergast would only say this about the possibility of Beattie’s return: “I can’t comment on that. There’s an ongoing investigation with the board.”

The complexity of why their principal is gone is hard for many of the students to understand. They all have learning difficulties and many of them struggle with change.

Shirlann Babineau is a parent: “It’s a big transformation for them to go from the school that they know and love to a school that they don’t know.”

Without a familiar face to guide them, it’s been a tough start to the year for students.

Jennie Henesbee: “We’re used to having Mr. Beattie walking down the hallways wishing us a good morning and to have a good day in class and we don’t have that here.”

What they do have is determination. They say they won’t be quiet until they get Mr. Beattie back.

The school board has refused to comment on Beattie’s absence, saying it’s a personnel matter but they did issue a statement saying: “We thank Paul for his assistance into helping us look into the events that took place at the end of June. We continue to review those events and we expect to provide further information when our review is complete.”


  1. I respect the rights of the students to mourn the loss of this man who was important in their lives. I understand that change is difficult, especially for these students who experience a variety of exceptionalities and challenges in their lives. How can I be confident that I know what I am talking about? I have worked with this population of students for many years. It is unfortunate that the only one part of this story makes news. I may or may not think that it was poor judgment to make the changes to administration in the manner that it was done, however going on a witch hunt as such as this does nothing to make this situation any better. Many of the students (both former Parkview and Mountain) now at the school have in fact made a fairly positive transition over the last couple of weeks. We too often forget about ALL parties involved and realize that not just one population and group of people have been affected. There are actually many people within the school population that have gone out of their way to try to be welcoming and accommodating to all involved. Many people that are being “hung out” to dry for lack of a better term, have nothing to do with the decision that was made, and are just doing their best to make things right for the students and others within the school community with the situation that has been given to them. As parents, educators, community partners and other protecting adults we try to protect our children from change and things that happen in the world. We often, however, underestimate the resiliency that they possess. As the adults, sometimes, we need to step back and look at the picture from the outside and decide if we may be actually be making things worse by acting in a manner that “we” think is helpful. Change happens in life. Things that shouldn’t happen and that we don’t want to happen do. Please be the one to “step outside the box” and give things a chance to work out. Advocate for things that will help make this situation work and become a positive experience for our children rather than changing things that are not likely to be. Finally, take a look at the whole picture — rather than just one part and embrace some of the positive things that are going on – rather than dwelling on the unfortunate negative ones.

  2. Malloy has been on a Witch Hunt for Paul Beattie since he took over, Paul is a compassionate man that cares more for the children them the board and that where the problem stems from Lord forbid they care more about the kids in our school system. That letter written on the Mountain website shows none of Paul’s character that means to me it was written for him by the communications dept and he signed it. It is a sad thing for these kids, change is inevitable in life but it its the constant lying that the board does to these kids that fuels the anger they have

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