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Independent discipline review works for victims

Independent discipline review works for victims too

The victims of poor schoolyard behaviour also need the protection offered by an independent review of school discipline, Green MP Metiria Turei said today.

Metiria, the Green Education spokesperson, said she was very concerned at reports today stating that earlier this year a group of students were given stand-downs of less than a week for allegedly attacking and indecently violating a female student.

Metiria said that justice was denied to the victim and her family as they could not challenge the school's decision not to refer the matter to its board of trustees. Recently, a 14 year-old student was excluded after being caught smoking cannabis outside of the school's care but could not challenge the school's decision.

"Without an independent review process to shed light on school discipline decisions, students and their families will continue to be denied natural justice," said Metiria.

"Until this is established, schools could continue to hush up embarrassing problems while meting out entirely inappropriate punishments that do not fit the crime.

Metiria said an independent review body should be based on restorative justice principles to give the victim a chance to have their grievances addressed.

"A review process that included restorative justice principles would make sure that the concerns of the victims are considered and provide the best opportunity for the wrongdoer to make amends and get help."

Metiria said the response of the Minister of Education, who dismissed the idea of an independent review as "nuts", was shameful.

"Its unreasonable to expect that school boards and principals would be able to review their own decisions fairly and honourably all the time. Many other industries and organisations have an independent review.

"The Office of the Commissioner for Children, YouthLaw and the Wellington Community Law Centre have all made compelling cases for an independent review body to be set up.

"Is the Minister saying that these organisations are 'nuts' too?"

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