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Kura appalled by appointment of Commissioner

Kura appalled by appointment of Commissioner

The Board of Trustees and Whangaroa kaumatua were shocked and appalled at the heavy handedness in the announcement on Wednesday by the Ministry of Education that a commissioner will be appointed on the basis there were some flaws in the election process in May of last year. This comes one year after the election process was completed.

Regional Manager Hira Gage said at the meeting on Wednesday night it was the only option open to Ministry. Board spokesperson, Moana Tuwhare said the kura whanau are surprised by this statement as the Ministry has recently informed the Board that an intervention was not the default position and all parties were exploring the other options available. The Board believed the Ministry were considering other options and were coming back to discuss them with the Board. The Board has never declined to run a new election voluntarily for example, but wanted the other options to be considered first. She said the sheer lack of transparency and openness by the Ministry astounded Kaumatua, Nuki Aldridge who was present at both hui and said he felt they had been “kicked in the guts”.

Complaints about the election six months after the election process was concluded were raised by disaffected parents who were not happy with the Board's actions last year that resulted in dismissal of the Tumuaki. The complainants’ have undertaken a campaign to discredit and undermine the Board in an attempt to have it removed and have the Tumuaki reappointed. At the beginning of this year they removed their children from the kura and settled them at other schools in the area. A majority of 56 tamariki and 32 whanau remain at the kura and the kura has been moving from strength to strength.

The Ministry has said that all decisions made by the Board are valid and has said the Board has governed and managed the kura well and has no concerns. The Board is confident that an open and transparent election process was followed and disputes claims by this group of parents. Chairperson Terry Smith said the exact same process was followed in the last election. A lead member of the disaffected group was a trustee appointed through this process but resigned earlier this year at the same time he was censured by the Board for actions that put the kura at risk.

The Board therefore questions the reasons behind this decision when other options were available including the validation of the board election process. This decision comes at a time when the Ministry is undertaking a regulatory review of interventions in schools because of concerns raised across the education sector about the Ministry’s use of interventions including concerns about poor Ministry processes and practices.

Te Runanganui O Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori O Aotearoa, the statutory kaitiaki of Te Aho Matua, the guiding philosophy under which kura kaupapa are established, does not support this intervention.

Last night a hui called by parents gave full support to an application to the High Court for an injunction order and judicial review of the Ministry’s decision. Court action has now been initiated.

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