21 Dec 2009

School loses fight with Minister to stay open

4:03 pm on 21 December 2009

The principal of Aorangi School says she is bitterly disappointed that her school will close but does not regret the efforts made to get the Government's decision overturned.

The Christchurch primary school - Prime Minister John Key's old school - had pursued a judicial review in an attempt to have its closure reconsidered.

But a High Court judge told the school on Monday morning that there was nothing legally wrong with the decision-making process followed by Education Minister Anne Tolley, who had satisfied all the legal requirements necessary to make the decision.

Justice French acknowledged her decision would be disappointing for Aorangi School but she hoped it would at last provide certainty.

"The lawyers for the board have said all that could possibly be said on the board's behalf. No stone has been left unturned. However, I am satisfied that none of the alleged errors are sustainable."

Aorangi principal Stephanie Thompson, who was in court to hear the ruling, says she is bitterly disappointed but will now focus on ensuring that the 88 students are appropriately relocated to other schools.

Only once that is done, she says, will she think about looking for work for herself - and her staff will be doing the same.

School board trustee Andrew Oh says the judicial review was always going to be a battle.

Mr Oh says the school disagrees with the Government's decision that it would be more cost effective to move the students and close the school, rather than simply upgrade its buildings.

Ms Tolley decided the school must close because its falling roll did not justify the $2m upgrade it needed for its buildings to be brought up to scratch.

The school argued that the decision was too hasty, and unfair on the students, who would have to be relocated.