16 Sep 2008

Education minister arrogant, says sacked board

9:18 pm on 16 September 2008

A Hokianga school board has accused Education Minister Chris Carter of arrogance in sacking the board and appointing a commissioner.

Mr Carter last week dissolved the board of Opononi Area School after two highly critical reports by the Education Review Office.

But board of trustees chairman Thomas Rogers says Mr Carter has ridden roughshod over local opinion.

Mr Rogers says the school was well on its way to dealing with the problems raised by the reports, and local Ministry of Education officials opposed the sacking of the board.

Mr Rogers says the board had overwhelming community support, but a small group of people unhappy with its efforts had created havoc, prompting Mr Carter's decision.

Opononi Area School has lost 30% of its roll in the past year, and the Education Review Office report described it as unsafe, rife with bullying, and having poor standards of teaching, learning, and financial management.

But the Ministry of Education says it is not true that local ministry staff told board members they did not agree with the decision.

Spokesperson Rawiri Bell says officials discussed options with board members, but did not tell them they were opposed to the minister dissolving the board.

Mr Bell says Opononi Area School already has a limited statutory manager in place after the board asked for help in April.

Concerned parents are calling for an urgent meeting with a commissioner, saying the community is not reassured by promises that resources at the school will be held at its present entitlement.

They say the roll has dropped by a third, so it still stands to lose four teachers - making its future uncertain.