Mother fighting SD 67 to have daughter admitted to KVR Middle

School too full for local kid

A Penticton woman is threatening to picket the offices of SD 67 over the school district’s refusal to allow her daughter to attend the school within her catchment area. 

Orna Santry says she has been stonewalled by the Okanagan Skaha School District; told KVR Middle School is too full to accept her daughter, despite Santry’s disability and inability to drive her daughter to school regularly.

Santry was nearly killed in a head-on crash on Highway 97 in Peachland in 2016 and is still recovering, spending much of September and October in hospital due to a surgery.

She says she bought a home near KVR Middle School with the explicit purpose of having her 12-year-old daughter within walking distance, but after moving in October, Santry learned KVR Middle is already at capacity. 

During a meeting with an SD 67 staffer about the issue, Santry said she was told to drive her daughter to Skaha Lake Middle School, something she physically can’t do daily. 

“She has a legal right to an education in our catchment, and the thing is, I picked this area for a reason. If I wanted to live near Skaha, I would have bought a house near Skaha,” Santry said. “I want her to be able to walk to school.”

SD 67 Secretary Treasurer Kevin Lorenz declined to comment specifically on Santry’s situation, but confirmed KVR Middle School is completely full with 30 students in every essential class. 

He said students who moved into KVR’s catchment area after the start of the school year are being bussed to Skaha Lake Middle. Next year, they will be accommodated at KVR.

Santry says she was never offered busing options during her meeting with the SD 67 staffer, but added busing wouldn’t work for them anyways. Given her long stays at the hospital and persisting disability, Santry says her daughter needs the ability to leave school independently on short notice if need be.

“We don’t have any immediate family here,” she said.

Santry says the school district seems unwilling to budge from its position and has started sending her calls straight to voicemail. 

“Yeah the whole school district doesn’t like me anymore, but did I do anything wrong?” she said. “I’ve been as courteous and professional as I can.”

Santry says she’s now moved onto lobbying the elected school board and has enlisted MLA Dan Ashton for help. If all else fails, she says she and her daughter will be holding a protest at the board offices.

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