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Minister keen to continue discussions

7 November 2001 Media Statement
Minister keen to continue discussions

Associate Education Minister Lianne Dalziel today welcomed the opportunity to continue discussions with the group of parents taking action against the government over its funding of special education.

The group, supported by QPEC, is seeking a judicial review of special education. The legal action, started by the group during the term of the last government, was due to proceed in Auckland today, but has been deferred to the 17th December 2001, because the judge is committed to a trial elsewhere.

“Although I cannot speak about the court case itself, I want to emphasise that I would like to see us use this time to continue discussions with the group in order to resolve this matter. Both parties – Crown Law on behalf of the government, and counsel for the plaintiffs – requested more time before proceeding with the case, but this was declined by the High Court. So now that we have that time, it needs to be put to good use to talk over the issues.

“I do not believe litigation is the most effective way to resolve disputes of this nature,” Lianne Dalziel said.

“I have made an open offer to settle this matter, and have said that there is room to negotiate. The key element of the offer involves a commitment to review Section 9 of the Education Act. This is not something the Court can grant anyway, so in my view it is a good offer.

“It must be acknowledged that there exists a range of views over Special Education and how it should be funded and delivered. These range from those who believe that all education should be entirely inclusive (with no units, or special schools) to those who believe that segregated environments are the only option for many students.

I am very saddened by the plaintiffs’ response so far. I have tried to be inclusive of the range of views I have listened to. It is unfair not to acknowledge that the policy has been evolving over the past 12 months since the Wylie Report was received. I haven’t ruled out any of the approaches that have been promoted by any of the groups, however, I will not commit to one approach simply because they challenge policy in a legal arena instead of a political one. My door remains firmly open”, Lianne Dalziel said.


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