12 Dec 2012

Parata shrugs off accusations over Salisbury School

6:59 pm on 12 December 2012

Education Minister Hekia Parata has rejected accusations in Parliament that she was prepared to put the safety of vulnerable girls at risk.

And Prime Minister John Key has given her his support, despite a High Court ruling that she had acted unlawfully in deciding to close Salisbury School in Nelson.

The High Court found the decision to close the special-needs residential school and move the girls to a boys' school showed a disregard for the greater risk of abuse the girls might face.

Ms Parata has announced she won't challenge the ruling and that Salisbury School will now remain open next year.

During Parliament's Question Time Labour's Chris Hipkins asked Ms Parata whether she had received a report showing girls with intellectual disabilities were more vulnerable to abuse in co-educational schools.

"I did ask for advice from the Ministry of Education and received it, and moreover the research that the member is referring to which is a report by Professor Briggs was not submitted in full to me."

And Mr Key defended her in the face of vigorous questioning from Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.

Dr Norman asked how parents could have confidence in the minister when she didn't put the safety of students first.