Deal breaks deadlock over expat school

16th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — A last-minute deal between expat parents and Hilversum Council has ended a drawn-out legal battle over the relocation of the international department of the Violen School.

16 March 2005

AMSTERDAM — A last-minute deal between expat parents and Hilversum Council has ended a drawn-out legal battle over the relocation of the international department of the Violen School.

Angry parents were threatening to appeal against a court ruling that dismissed their objections to the new site and their demands for a delay of the relocation, but they have now signed a deal which they believe meets their concerns about health and safety.

The city council and Hilversum Primary Education Foundation have agreed to push for the relocation of the GSM mobile phone mast situated next to the new school building. The mast is owned and operated by Vodafone.

Parents had voiced concerns about the health risks the mast might pose, pointing to recent British research that advised against the placing of mobile antennas near schools. But the council said a report by Dutch research bureau TNO has found no associated health risks.

Nevertheless, the council and the education foundation will now assist parents in their bid to have the mast moved. Relocating the mast could also increase the size of the school playground, which parents claim is too small.

The chief of the council's Administration and Development department, Wim Bekenkamp, said the council is not prepared to contribute financially to the relocation of the mast, but would assist in finding a new location.

The council and foundation will also make every effort to have a metal construction removed from the school playground to improve playground safety.

Continued discussions will also be held with parents about traffic safety concerns around the school and the safety of children in times of emergency. Parents have claimed emergency vehicles would not be able to access the school.

The deal was a result of the court's ruling on 11 March when parents reacted in disbelief and several began considering withdrawing their children to the school. Some even questioned whether they wanted to stay in the Netherlands.

Parents complained that the Hilversum Council has treated them with disrespect. They say the way they were dealt with contradicts the Dutch government's aim to recruit more expats to help stimulate the "knowledge economy".

Some parents had only sought to delay the opening of the new location until the end of the school year, giving them time to find a new school for their children. The court refused the request, dismissing also all of the other objections.

And one parent, though disappointed, is now determined to move on and remains philosophical about the outcome: "You don't ever lose when you're honest to your beliefs and that's a lesson I can teach my children".

The Violen school's international department has two locations. The south location is in the Rembrandtschool building, where the international school's main office is located. The north location is currently at the Daltonschool building in the De Meent neighbourhood.

But the Hilversum Meent location is being demolished for a redevelopment project, forcing the relocation of the campus.

The new site at the Frans Halslaan, a few blocks from the main building at the Rembrandtlaan, will bring the two locations closer together. Some 140 pupils aged four to eight (groups one to four) will attend the new location at the Rens & Rens building in the Frans Halslaan, while groups five to eight will attend the other location in the Rembrandtlaan.

"It opens various possibilities for integration not only between our two buildings, but also with the Dutch Violenschool located at the Violenstraat," the school said on its website.

Pupils are expected to start attending classes at the new location on Tuesday 29 March, after the Easter break.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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