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Lashlie sacking makes a mockery of initiative

Gerry Brownlee National Education Spokesman

22 April 2001

Lashlie sacking makes a mockery of suspension initiative

The Government's commitment to children will continue to look like a farce unless the Minister of Education reinstates sacked Special Education Services Manager Celia Lashlie, National's Gerry Brownlee said today.

"Just last week Trevor Mallard announced a million dollar fund, rising to $2.5 million next year, to help stem the growing tide of suspensions in primary and secondary schools. Trevor Mallard said 'This funding will provide support to principals and school boards to help deal with a growing problem... the latest reports show an urgent need to be more proactive'.

"The reports Mr Mallard referred to spoke of primary school children involved in violent assaults, arson, drug use and carrying weapons into the classroom.

"Within days his department had terminated the contract of Celia Lashlie for daring to speak the truth. She used a composite example of the sort of child who is at extreme risk of ending up in a life of crime, and suggested ways to help address those sort of cases. The point Celia Lashlie was making was that early intervention works. That attempt to be proactive cost Ms Lashlie her job.

"If Mr Mallard allows that situation to stand then he is a hypocrite, doubly so when you recall his strong advocacy of legislation to protect whistle-blowers.

"This whole incident shows how a blinkered adherence to a politically correct 'offend no-one and deny of the truth' approach, is condemning the future of so many of our young children to a life on the wrong side of the law and ensuring thousands of others will become the innocent victims of mindlessly violent crime in the future.

"The comments made by Celia Lashlie were plain truth and common-sense and if the minister, who has been at pains to distance himself from Ms Lashlie's sacking, does not direct SES to reinstate her then how much credibility can be attached to his suspension initiative?" Gerry Brownlee asked.

Ends


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