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Residential School Closure Decisions Must Be Deferred

12 December 2012

All Decisions Around Residential School Closures Must Now Be Deferred

The Public Service Association is calling for all decisions around special residential school closures to be deferred in the wake of the High Court ruling on Nelson’s Salisbury School.

The High Court has ruled that the government’s decision to close Salisbury residential school for girls and place them in the co-educational Halswell School in Christchurch is unlawful.

Closing Salisbury School is part of wider moves by the Ministry of Education to create a wrap-around special education service for children with complex behavioural and learning disabilities. Under the restructuring McKenzie residential school in Christchurch will also close and many children will be based back in their local communities to attend mainstream schools.

“The Ministry was warned that it was rushing this process and that its timeframe for establishing this new national service and closing down the schools was completely unrealistic,” says PSA delegate Richard Chalklen.

“The High Court decision calls into question the whole decision-making process and the Ministry should now call a halt to entire restructure and try and work through the issues in a more considered way.”

The Ministry is already scrambling to get the new wrap around service up and running for next year.

Richard Chalklen says “it is still trying to employ people, there are no clear policies in place and Halswell School in Christchurch has been told its current services are being extended by another six months because the new services won’t be ready in time.”

“Another consequence of this rushed process is that valuable and specialised staff have now been lost as there has been very little transfer of expertise into the new system, and they have left to look for other work.”

“The Ministry was told that creating a new national service, transitioning families and closing schools would be something which would take time and require careful consideration. It should now listen to that and defer all decisions relating to the restructure,” he says.


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