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Report On The Investigation Of SES

Report On The Investigation Of Specialist Education Services

Education Minister Trevor Mallard said he believed former Specialist Education Services manager Celia Lashlie had not been treated fairly when her contract was terminated.

His comments were made after the receipt of a report last week from the State Services Commission. The Minister asked SSC to investigate the matter under the State Sector Act 1988.

"The report shows that the manner in which the Specialist Education Services acted was within their right in legal and contractual terms," Trevor Mallard said.

"Ms Lashlie was not an employee of the SES but a 'leased executive' employed by a consulting company.

"However, the process that was followed was not one that I, and many other New Zealanders who have expressed an opinion on this matter, feel was very fair.

"I held a meeting with the Chairman of the Specialist Education Services Graham Lovelock last Thursday. At that meeting I expressed to him my dissatisfaction with the way the matter had been handled.

"On Friday the board gave me an indication on how they would deal with the matter. It was an outcome I was not satisfied with. Following another discussion with the Board Chairman, I then accepted his offer to resign, which had been made to me the night before.

"Yesterday Cabinet agreed to the appointment of Doug Martin as the new chairman of the SES board, effective immediately. It is my hope that under a new chair, the board will be able to look at this report more carefully and develop a response to the issues it raises.

"The board has advised me that work is underway to enable Ms Lashlie to be employed by schools in the Nelson region so her skills and experience in dealing with children with special learning needs are available to the community. While details are still being confirmed, SES has undertaken to make $60,000 available to the schools to engage Ms Lashlie through until the end of the school year.

"It is also important to note that the Government made an unrelated decision earlier this year that the Specialist Education Service would be disbanded and its role taken over by a directorate within the Ministry of Education.

"We believe this will provide for better delivery of services to children with special education needs. It will also free up funding spent on administrative overheads and that money will be spent at the grass roots.

"Doug Martin has had considerable experience in management in the state sector and will bring these skills to the task of chairing the board during the transition period.
"I appreciate the difficulties that SES staff and board members are working under at this time. I am confident that their professionalism and desire to improve services for children and young people with special needs will mean that they will continue to work with the new chair to ensure the smooth transition during the next eight to ten months," Trevor Mallard said.

The report will be available on the executive website at www.executive.govt.nz from 3.45pm

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